“Guys I know I’m new and I don’t mean to complain, but this door is broken, I can’t fit through it!”
Say hello to Bear, we adopted him this afternoon and are keeping him in our bedroom at the moment so the cats can come and go as they please but have the rest of the house to themselves while we all get acquainted. Which is good because at one point Bear chased Boo, I think more playfully than aggressively but understandably Boo was terrified and so I spent a while with him getting him to relax. He’s sleeping in his usual place wedged in between me and the edge of the couch but he still jumps at every unfamiliar sound.
Hopefully as the excitement of the first day wears off and Bear comes to understand his furry masters are to be obeyed and protected this won’t be an issue but we’ll keep an eye on it as obviously we won’t put the cats at risk. He did great with Sam later in the day, and lived with cats previously, so there’s reason to believe we can keep him on the straight and narrow.
He needs to learn some commands and get better at his on-leash behavior but the same was true of Ellie when we adopted her. The difference is that at 100 pounds (!!!) he’s much larger than she was, and she was big for a lab! Those things don’t worry me as he seems to want to please us so it’s just a matter of teaching him what we want.
He’s a very sweet fellow, we had a lot of nice moments already even in our short time together. We had kept a couple of Ellie’s hedgehogs and as Bear I played with them I had to hold back the tears watching him run around, squeaking them with joyful abandon. When my wife went to bed I went in to kiss him goodnight and his tail started wagging as he woke and saw me approach.
He was sleeping on my side though!
I’ve posted similar shots of Ellie before, sitting beside the dragon at Irvington School in December 2017. Originally I meant to post it to mark the four year anniversary of leaving our beloved Portland, and when that date passed the anniversary of our arrival here in the desert, but I was pretty tired after work each night and the posts went unwritten. I was in the middle of writing it yesterday under the better-late-than-never philosophy when my wife came in and said the black lab being fostered up in Cave Creek she had her eye on was still up for adoption, and he was cat friendly, and we could meet him that afternoon …
… and we pick up 6 year old Bear in an hour to bring him home. Rather than nattering on and never getting this up I’ll just say how grateful I am for every moment I got to spend with the goofball above and how much I’m looking forward to getting to know the newest member of the family.
I can hardly believe it but it was three years ago we arrived at the rental house after a three day drive from Oregon, a little bedraggled but looking forward to the next stage of our lives. I snapped this quick picture not long after we got out of the car, thankfully Ellie did well on the long trip. As long as we were together she was happy, an attitude I tried to adopt when it felt like we were in a whirlwind as I had but a day to settle in before starting work. I never dreamed we’d get another year with her and that she’d even see us into our new home but we got lucky in so many ways with this sweet pup. I met a black lab the other day on a neighborhood walk, she was straining at the leash to meet me so I knelt down and gave her some much deserved affection. “You’ve made a friend,” her owner said, though I wasn’t sure which one of us she was referring to. I love meeting dogs of all kinds on my walks and hikes but obviously black labs will always hold a special place in my heart.
Ellie curled up on the couch beside me in the fall of 2013, the day winding down as the clock ticked towards midnight. When I got tired enough to fall asleep she’d follow me upstairs to the bedroom. I’m thankful I took a lot of shots of her doing everyday things like this, I didn’t do it enough in the early days with Templeton and Scout.
Ellie in 2009, she came into the living room while I was playing with Scout to let me know she was available for hedgehogging, a minute later she was making music with her favorite toy, then a minute later was ready for a snooze. She’d sometimes have soft little snores, sometimes she’d make little whoops as her legs made running motions.
Taken two minutes apart on Halloween of 2014, Ellie teaches Boo how to wait by the door so they can greet me when I come home from work (he was always eager to take her spot after she got up). Our first cat Templeton used to wait by the door for me, then Scout learned it from him, and Sam and Emma from Scout. But after Ellie arrived the cats learned to hold back a bit as her feet started dancing but she was looking at me and not at cats who might have wandered underfoot. Sam and Boo sometimes greet me at the door now but not with the consistency of the old days.
Oh pup. It’s been one year since we had to say goodbye to Ellie, a year where I still miss her rather intently at times, not unexpected given the strength of the bond that formed over her long life. The picture is three years old, taken near the start of our morning walk on a lovely spring morning when we still had a year left in Portland and two years with her. She was such a comfort in difficult times, our time together was such a blessing.
During our time in Portland the city added a bunch of sand to a section of the dog park at Irving Park where the dogs played the most, which was wonderful as it let the field drain during the perpetually damp rainy season instead of turning into a soppy mess. Which Ellie loved, as we had a game where she’d run beside me up and down the length of the park, getting a treat if she stuck by my side no matter how I zigged and zagged, and now the game could continue all year long. Her running days were over by the spring of 2017 but she was still up for long walks, which we always started at this lovely park a few blocks from the house. After we played she got to choose the rest of the route.
On my first visit to Cavalliere Park as I started towards the dog park, which was more of a dog pond since it had been raining all day, I stopped in my tracks when it occurred to me that had Ellie been younger this in some ways would have been our Irving Park. We wouldn’t have visited every day since it’s too far from the house to walk but it has a dog park, a playground, basketball courts, picnic areas, and a walking path, just like our beloved park in Portland. One had lots of old oaks and maples and one lots of saguaros, but all that would have mattered was that they both had the pup. Except this park never would. She’s been gone almost a year so it wasn’t the sort of moment of unexpected grief that knocks you to your knees, just stops you for a moment until you catch your breath. I changed course to the hiking trail and had a lovely visit and returned the next day, smiling when I saw a handful of people and pups enjoying the sunny weather. This is Ellie at Irving Park in the fall of 2011, the dog park is right behind her, I made her stop for a moment for a picture before we headed back into the neighborhood, our walk just beginning.