The Bear Report

Just took Bear to the vet to learn why she is limping. She has reduced muscle mass in her shoulders, and the doc thinks she might have a couple of compressed vertebrae in her neck, a common problem in giant breed dogs. The symptoms appear as the dog ages.

It’s a depressing reality that a giant breed dog at 5 years old is older than a normal dog at 5 years old. Bear now has pain meds, and we don’t have to do anything different than we do anyway. Otherwise Bear is in very good condition and was loved on by everyone. 

Some of the people at the vet have known Bear since she was a puppy and were very glad to see her (me too, I think). 

Sonnet 64:

When I have seen by Time’s fell hand defac’d
The rich proud cost of outworn buried age;
When sometime lofty towers I see down-ras’d
And brass eternal slave to mortal rage;
When I have seen the hungry ocean gain
Advantage on the kingdom of the shore,
And the firm soil win of the wat’ry main,
Increasing store with loss and loss with store;
When I have seen such interchange of state,
Or state itself confounded to decay;
Ruin hath taught me thus to ruminate,
That Time will come and take my love away.
This thought is as a death, which cannot choose
But weep to have that which it fears to lose.

It was weird at the vet. I’m obviously 70ish and not absolutely normal walking. One of the techs asked me how I could handle such a big dog. I was flummoxed. I’ve had big dogs as long as I’ve had dogs. Bear is always aware of me, even if she pulls ahead, she stops and looks back. She’s pulled me down ONCE in her whole life and that’s because I didn’t let go when I should have when a dog was charging her and barking at her (on leash). I thought about people and their dogs. When Bear and I walk, we walk together. We’re both engaged in something that makes each of us happy individually but is enriched because we’re together. It’s been like that for me with all my dogs, but Bear most of all.

I don’t know that it’s about controlling a dog as much as understanding the dog. Teddy is learning, but he has a way to go. Still, he’s only a year old. It takes time to know your dog.

My theory of dog training is you teach your dog what he/she needs to know to be safe in the world of people and otherwise, you just cooperate. Bear was really beautifully behaved at the vet. I don’t know. Everyone thinks their dog is extraordinary, but I think Bear might be objectively extraordinary. These dogs are bred to be calm and aware of their environment at all times. That’s translated for me into a dog that’s almost a friend as much as a pet.

40 thoughts on “The Bear Report

    • the meds are for the rest of her life. She’s like a 10 year old normal dog at this point. The meds work well, though. Both Mindy and Dusty did very well with the same meds. AND the more Bear and I walk, the better for her.

    • Yes, she’ll have to have one or two pills every day. I’m going to go with one in the morning I think so it’s still in her system when we take our walk. It’s going to be kind of an experiment at first.

  1. My cats got a heart murmur and may have to go on meds. But that’s what medicine is for. I am leased we have the NHS. If I had to pay fot my medication I don’t think I could afford it. We all pay National Insurance to get basic pensions and health care in Britain. We don’t want it privatising any more. They have cherry picked the easy stuff and sold that off… Anyway love to Bear, you and Teddy too!

  2. I am sorry that Bear has that problem. I am glad he will be okay. He looks like a huge fluffy pillow to sleep on.

    I am afraid many of my human friends lost their companions and it was very sad. OF course I was watching Incredible Dr Po for most of the day today and they showed the episode where they had to put down one of their pets. I was crying and turned around and hugged sky.

    I do love your theory about dog training…its really great.

  3. I’m so glad that Bear’s medical problem is treatable and hopefully the pain meds have no side effects that matter – especially her sense of smell! It seems that you are both aging together. And Bear understands that. I love her looking back for you instead of pulling you down. That is a friend. ❤️

  4. All of my dogs throughout my life were my friends, Martha Ann. Some were much closer friends than others, however. I was always very shy & I swear that dogs can really KNOW you and of course they don’t keep count of our negatives. So with Bear, because she’s known you so long, and you enjoy the same things together, she must be your friend, indeed.

    • She definitely is. Mom used to say they were child surrogates but they were never child surrogates. They were “people” I had stuff in common with and who always wanted to go hiking with me. ❤

  5. I’ve only ever had one dog, we got him when I was about 15. He was a cutie, but he was definitely my dad’s dog. He’d do anything for Dad, but barely tolerated walks with me or my sister. Right now, if I could harness train my little cat – who already plays fetch and follows me like a chunky black shadow – he’d probably complete his transformation into a dog.

    • Cats are under appreciated by a lot of people. I had a Siamese who defended me against my abusive husband. They are awesome animals.

  6. Wonderful lines there. “Increasing store with loss and loss with store” sounds entirely like the story of one’s life, and I guess everyone’s.

  7. I sure hope the medication helps Bear get back out on the trails with you. Too many good smells she might miss, oh and of course your company out in the big empty!

    • I walked her this evening. She was hurting after, but she enjoyed every minute of the walk and got to say hi to some girls on bikes. I gave her a pill when we got home. We’ve resolved just to do our best. ❤

  8. Glad Bear is more comfortable. There are many veterinarians who specialize in massage, acupuncture and chiropractic – the key is finding one specifically for dogs. Some prefer to only work on horses… The pain meds are the quickest way to give her relief. That is the worst part of having a big dog – they age so much faster than the littler ones…

    • Yep. Bear and I had a walk and a heart-to-heart this evening. She made the point that even though she’s five and might have only five more years we’ve had a great time. She reminded me that’s the important thing. And then she said, “But no one knows, so we should enjoy every moment.” She’s a very wise dog. ❤

  9. While I’m sad Bear has to contend with some pain, I’m pretty sure, based on your descriptions of her, that she will handle it Stoically, as will you. Meds will help, of course. I’ve had elder dogs act like pups again after starting anti-inflammatory meds, enhancing their quality of life. She’ll let you know what she needs.

  10. Control is only an option at certain times. Friendship is the fundamental aspect of the entire relationship. Sometimes, you have to be the boss. Most times, you are the best friend. Big difference. And, apparently, you understand that very well.

    • I hate it, too, and I finally decided just to believe they were being polite and friendly. The pain meds have helped Bear, and we won’t be going anywhere for walks where she has to jump out of my jeep.

  11. I’m glad to know that there is something you can do for Bear, at least to reduce her pain! (Sorry I missed this on Friday — it’s been strange days!) I do hope that she will b able to take many long walks with you in the big empty without too much difficulty!

Comments are closed.