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Bear the Friend, Collector, and Self-Feeding Dog

Shannon Bohrer

In a previous article I talked about our former dog named Bear. I hope you read that article because this is a continuation of "A good Dog, but there isn't anything behind those eyes." To set the stage, Bear was a young Chocolate Lab that came to live with us when he was only six months old. Just six months later Bear had blossomed into a 110-pound lap dog that loved everybody, and I mean everybody. As my wife remarked once or twice: "That dog does not have a mean bone in his body".

As Bear settled in he became best friends with the horses, barn cats, stray cats, the beef cattle and even the chickens. Bear would lie in front of the barn and the cats would snuggle up next to him; these are barn cats! One cat in particular followed him around and as cats often do, this cat liked to rub against Bear's Head. Bear never seemed to mind, but Bear often drooled - which resulted in the cat having a punk hair style. Cats with punk hair styles are not taken seriously.

On another occasion a young stray cat made our barn its home and Bear his best friend. My wife commented that if that cat stays, it will be fixed. Several months later the cat was fixed and about a month later the cat disappeared. It was about a year later that we learned that the cat belonged to a neighbor who moved!

We had a small breed of chickens at that time and one of the hens had hatched some eggs so there were some peeps. One day as Bear was lying in front of the barn, he watched the mother hen jump over a 2 X 6 board. Then the peeps jumped up and over one at a time. The last peep was too little, so Bear got up, reached over and picked up the peep in his mouth and then set the peep down on the outside. Of course when he set the peep down - it was wet. Bear drooled a lot, as if he was going to eat at any moment. The peep was in his mouth for seconds, if he had it any longer it would have downed.

Aside from the friends that Bear had on the farm, he seemed to make friends everywhere he traveled. As many dogs do he seemed to follow his nose. Although he rarely got into trouble, at least he never mentioned that he did, sometimes you never knew where he went - or what he would bring home. One day while we were outside working, Bear walked in the driveway with a red colored object in his mouth. The object turned out to be a bird feeder. My wife looked at me - the look that says your dog is a thief. I said something about dogs and the finding of lost property. If a dog finds something, he believes the property was abandoned; therefore he is entitled to it. If Bear had any guilt about bringing home abandoned property, he never showed it. We hung up the bird feeder and used it for many years. I do believe that the statute of limitations has expired for anything that he brought home.

On another occasion Bear brought home a loaf of bread, not an open loaf, not an old loaf, but a fresh loaf of bread - like you would buy in a grocery store. I know that Bear would sometimes take long walks, but the nearest grocery store is 5 or 6 miles from our home. Bear had no money, or at least none that we knew of. Even if he did have money, I don't know if he could count. How would he know how much the bread cost? Maybe he just hung out in front of the store and someone gave him the bread? Whereever he acquired the bread, he did not say.

On another occasion Bear brought home a pan of Rice Crispy treats! Again, they were not old; they were fresh. On this occasion my wife accused the dog of being a thief. I believed him to be honest and trustworthy; well, maybe just honest. It's not that Bear lied. I just think that sometimes he omitted important details of an event. I assured her our dog was not a low-life thief and that someone had probably abandoned the product and Bear just did not want to see it go to waste. My wife later told me she apologized to the neighbors whose treats were taken. The neighbors had set the pan outside to cool. Now I ask you, how was Bear to know that they did not abandon the treats? Additionally, how do we know it was the same pan?

In today's economic climate Bear would be a good dog to have. On other trips he seemed to find perfectly good groceries. There was the bunch of grapes, leftovers, and a number of other assorted items. I don't think he ever left with a list; if he did I never saw it. He also seemed to find some things that were edible to his taste, but not always to ours. The cow hoof being one. Because of the odor, I pretty sure the cow had been deceased for some time. For a strange reason Bear really liked the cow hoof. I was loading up the manure spreader and Bear momentarily abandoned his cow hoof. I picked it up and put in with the manure in the spreader. The hoof was deposited somewhere in a fifteen-acre hay field - and Bear found it - retrieved it and brought it back. Did I mention that Bear had an excellent sense of smell?

There were other things that he brought home that puzzled us. The car fan blade was one! My wife asked, "You don't think he took that off a car, do you?" I said he did not have any tools and I don't think he would know how, but it did make us wonder. Another time he brought home a pair of eyeglasses. My wife wanted me to check the roads to see if someone was wandering around looking for them. I have no idea where he got them, but I am sure he did not take them from someone walking down the road. As far as I know, Bear never wore glasses. Remember the statute of limitations has expired, I think!

Aside from Bear's regular meals and the food that he brought home, when he was hungry he sometimes ate out of the garden. He was observed, on more than one occasion, walking into the garden, picking up a tomato, walking out of the garden, then lying down and eating his tomato. We also knew that he liked sour cherries. He was often observed under the cherry trees, picking the ripe ones - seeds and all.

In reflecting on Bear's habit of bringing home food and collectibles, I sometimes picture him sitting along the road eating. I am pretty sure that when he went shopping, not unlike many people, he probably ate a few things before coming home! He was a good dog.

Read other articles by Shannon Bohrer