Care Bear

“BEAR!!!! I want to sleep!”

“I have a job to do, Aunt Lois. I need to make sure my flock is well and safe all night.”

“But you’ve woken me up four times! I’m tired! It was a long day! Fun, but long.”

“OK. I’ll go check on Mark.”

“You do that.” Lois gets up and slams her door shut, hoping that this time it latches. Martha wakes up at the sound and knows the whole story. She laughs to herself and goes back to sleep.

Morning comes. Martha’s up first. She looks in her friend’s room and sees the sheet pulled up over her face and laughs to herself again. Bear doesn’t give up. Bonded to humans rather than sheep, she is taking care of her flock. Lois and Mark are her flock and when they come back to the fold after a long absence, Bear is visibly relieved.

In the solitude and silence, Martha makes coffe and a smoothie, taking the blender to her room so she doesn’t wake Mark who’s sleeping in the semi-bedroom/studio off the kitchen with only a curtain, no door. She sits down at her laptop and with amazing tenacity continues looking for agents who might possibly represent her book, The Price. She does this only because it’s the right thing to do, and necessary, not because she has any hope. She doesn’t.

Lois wakes up.

“I guess Bear checked on you a few times?”

“I finally gave up keeping her out of my room.”

Later on, Mark stumbles out.

“Did Bear check on you in the night, Marky?”

“Her nose.” Mark had slept on a mattress on the floor, an easy target for Bear’s cold nose.

This is the hazard of spending the night in the same house with a tenacious livestock guardian dog who loves you.


(Some of the conversation in this post is possible but imaginary)

19 thoughts on “Care Bear

    • She does have a long nose. She checks on her “flock” and sticks on their butts. It’s disconcerting for people but necessary for sheep. She doesn’t check on me or push me along with her nose. I think she might think I’m just like her?

      • She’s not really a herding dog. The closest thing to herding a livestock guardian dogs do is gently nudge their charges along if they are straggling. Usually they work with herding dogs — border collies a lot of the time. They are very, very, very calm, so calm that mother goats and sheep will let them help deliver their babies. Livestock guardian dogs often get to clean off the little lamb or kid after it’s born. They only bark when there is danger — they can chase away a bear, wolf or a mountain lion. They are really amazing.

      • I didn’t realize that there were guardian dogs as well as herding dogs — what an impressively protective nature they have, and how great that they are so trusted by other animals!

      • I admire them a lot. I didn’t know anything about them until I brought home Bear. I didn’t even know what breed she was. I thought Pyrenees and husky. Marilyn knows a lot about Pyrenees and she encouraged me. A local friend here recognized that Bear is a different kind of livestock guardian dog — an Akbash. They can have blue eyes (but they’re a fault) and there are many in the San Luis Valley. They’re lighter weight than Pyrenees but do the same job. They’re originally from Turkey. I could not have found a better companion for this moment in my life. She’s low energy, very calm, intuitive, affectionate, funny, intelligent, independent — she even understands complete sentences like, “Do you want an ice cube?” “Come up here” some other things. I’ve had a lot of dogs, but not like her. 🙂

        One time I was driving through some very remote country between here and Taos in November. On an empty hillside I saw two of these dogs and about 20 sheep. All alone, not a human in sight, no human house for 25 miles. There are bears, mtn. lions and coyotes all over the place out there and the person who has this herd could rely on his dogs 100%. I felt so much respect for them.

      • I’ve known that Bear is a wonderful companion for you — but I love that she also cares for your guests and for other animals. Your description makes me think that I might even like her even though I’m not really a dog person 🙂 !

      • She has very winning ways, but if she met you, she would hug you. She sits, then wraps her “arms” around the person. She will not jump up, but the hug can be very surprising. She’s very gentle, even when she’s excited. ❤

  1. We are lucky. WE have doors. And for reasons, probably because that’s how we’ve trained them, they like being together at night. They are a pack. They need each other. This is a good thing. So far, so good.

    • The spare room door is funky and there’s a trick to latching it. Bear and Dusty sleep together when there’s no one here but me, but when other people are here. Bear has to take care of them. When my company left, Bear was exhausted! 😀

  2. I haven’t had the pleasure of meeting her, but I love Bear. At least your guests don’t have to worry about you nudging them with your cold nose in the middle of the night. I mean, they don’t, right?

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