The name didn’t quiet fit this marvelous black cat who lived life on her own terms and most times completely ignored the fact that she was a cat, especially when it came to the loves of her live, her dogs.
Yes, I said dogs.
Much to the chagrin of just about every dog that became part of our family over the last 14 years, Little Bear adored dogs.
We had to say goodbye to this massive personality on Thursday, August 13 due to a deteriorating physical condition brought on by what we believed to have been cancerous growths that made it clear it would not be long.
As a family it’s been our rule that we don’t keep animals around longer than is in their best interest for our own sake.
When it’s time, it’s time.
“Little” Bear came to us with a sister (not blood but you get it) back in 2006 when my wife Deb had to pick up the ashes of another favorite cat, Max, at our vet in Falls Village at the Sand Road Animal Hospital.
These two little mostly black cats, Missy was the other, served multiple purposes for us at the time. First by filling the hole left when Deb’s beloved Max was lost to us and the second was to help another feline, Colors, get over missing her Max.
You see, Colors had fallen into a pretty deep funk after Max left and the addition of the two kittens gave her a new-found purpose. Keeping them in line.
Bear needed some of that and eventually became the guardian of the house as she grew and I mean that in a very literal sense.
“Little Bear” got big over time but never lost her spirit as she watched one animal after another come into her world and then for one reason or another, leave.
Her favorite dog was one we lost just last year, Lily.
Lily was a Shih Tzu who became her best friend, even though that probably was the last thing that Lily wanted.
Lily understood the natural way things were supposed to go with dogs and cats, even if Bear simply didn’t care.
When the two of them were out in our back yard, Bear would be busy trying to rub on Lily while Lily had a look of distain on her face as she scurried to escape the hugs.
That never deterred Little Bear though. She would continue her love for dogs till the end.
While Little Bear was very affectionate with her dogs, she never was a cat that wished to be picked up.
Picking her up became a battle against flailing legs and sharp claws just looking for somewhere to land so she remained on the ground most of her life.
Not that she wasn’t affectionate, to the contrary but on her terms, pure cat like rules.
Overnight, Bear would make her way onto the bed and if she wished to get some attention, utilize those claws to gently tap on Deb’s cheek as an attention getter, albeit a sharp one.
You could often find Bear under the covers near Deb in the morning, a mound keeping close to her humans.
A long cat, Bear would stretch her way near the top of one of the counters as I dispensed her wet food each morning before work, all the while reminding me to hurry the heck up.
She had more of a short yell than a meow, especially if she felt I was not moving fast enough with the food.
Bear was an indoor/outdoor cat who would often bring home gifts to us, including a snake that she left at the bottom of the stairs one time that we were so happy to find.
She single handedly wiped out to the mole population in our yard each spring/summer and on occasion, a bird who wandered too close and didn’t make it back to it’s nest that day.
Bear was an extraordinarily fun cat when she felt like playing.
Her ability to play ball by herself or with us was the stuff of legends in our house.
Didn’t have a ball? A piece of rolled up paper would do just fine.
Bear loved the sun and bathed in it whenever possible, normally on her back, usually in dirt.
She would roll and talk about how much fun she was having doing it, all the while knowing that the dirt would make it in the house, in the bed and on us.
Little Bear was, like all our 17 animals (over 28 years), part of the fabric of our family.
We see her everywhere right now.
Downstairs on her favorite Mets blanket or sunning herself on the back porch.
We feel her jump on the bed and instinctively move over a bit to make sure she had enough room.
Working from home for the past seven years gave me the chance to have Bear around me most days.
Several times a day she would come upstairs and give me a look and a yell, reminding me that she hadn’t had any wet foot in, oh two hours or so, so I had better get on the ball.
At times, it was just time to pet her or get on the floor for some stretching which gave her the opportunity to throw herself on the ground, usually on one of my sides.
When it came time to say goodbye, we had hoped to have her go across the Rainbow Bridge at home, as we had done with her friend Lily but there wasn’t time so we made the trip up to Sand Road Animal Hospital in Falls Village, our vets.
The trouble with that idea was that Bear and going in the car didn’t mesh very well, as experienced by me back in March when I was trying to take her for a checkup.
I didn’t even make it to the rotary in Goshen before turning around.
Between the yells (no pain just annoyed) and the panting, I thought I was going to lose her on the way so I turned back for home.
Once I let her our of the carrier, I saw that I had perhaps been played by this smarter than your average Bear who walked out of the carrier and majestically into the house to, of course get something to eat.
This time we took Deb’s Jeep, put the back seats down and let her roam in the back, amid pillows and towels.
At one point, I climbed in the back and kept her company which seemed to calm her some as we made our way to the vet.
In the end, the one thing we couldn’t do throughout her life, hold her, finally happened.
Deb held her after she had been given a sedative and while the tears flowed, we knew the pain was gone and that this terrific cat who had given us so much joy was joining the crew that went her.
We can see her now, rubbing up against her dog buddies who are more than likely doing their best to get away!
Thank you Bear, you gave so much and we love you and will miss you forever.