Bear was a big, sweet, loving Golden Retriever. He came into our lives many years ago when he was being fostered and looking for a new home. We had been thinking about getting a small dog, partly because our daughter was afraid of large dogs. My husband took our daughter to the park one day; they saw a man my husband knew, and the man had a very large Golden Retriever with him. My daughter ran up to this huge dog, hugged him, and played with him.
When we found out that this magical animal who had cast a spell on my daughter needed a home, things moved quickly. Soon, we brought Bear home. The bond between this wonderful dog and my daughter was special and strong. When she was on a swing, he interpreted her joyful shrieks as a cry for help. He stood on his hind legs in front of the swing, stopped the swing with his body, and held onto her until my husband stepped in to rescue her.
He was protective of all of us. One evening, as we were preparing to move, I was sitting on the recliner after a long day of packing. My husband was sitting on the front porch, our daughter had fallen asleep on the couch, and Bear was dozing on the floor. A sudden pounding made me jump out of the chair, and Bear began barking ferociously. I screamed, and my husband came running into the house. We called the police and learned that someone had tried to push the air conditioner into the house as a way to break in. Bear’s ferocious protectiveness had scared them away, and he guarded that window every waking moment until we moved.
Bear loved the Christmas tree. Each year, from the time we put it up until the day we took it down, the spot under it was his territory. It was his spot for naps, guarding the house, and waiting for belly rubs. The tree seemed to draw him even more when the lights were on, so we kept the tree lit often. It seemed to make him so happy.
We didn’t want to limit the peace he got from the tree to one time of year, so I scoured craigslist and found an amazing deal on a huge ficus tree. We lugged it home, named it Bear’s tree, and put white lights on it. He loved it, and snoozing under it became his favorite pastime.
When we found out he had cancer, the tree became even more meaningful to all of us. We decided to expand on the idea, so we put year-round greenery on the mantel, and added white lights to it. Just as Bear relaxed and snoozed under the lights, even in his last days, we relax in their soft glow. They’re Bear’s lights, and they bring us peace.