These are the “Bear” Facts

By Brigit Brown, age 10 (Editor’s Note: Brigit is the daughter of newsletter contributor Judith Costello.)

It was many years ago. I was three years old. This was back when we were still living in Taos. I was playing with 87769678a dog we called Bear. Bear is huge with floppy ears and a stocky body.
I was so small I could barely keep up with him. Jurgen, my stepdad, was sitting in a lawn chair half sleeping, half watching me. My mom and brother were in the house making lemonade. I looked up hearing a noise near my head. There was a butterfly! I started to chase it. It flew happily around teasing me. I tripped on a tree root and the butterfly got away. Darn.
I saw the shadow of a dog. I thought it was Bear coming to rescue me and scold the butterfly for making me fall. I looked up as the shadow got closer only to find a huge dog, bigger than Bear. I lifted my head again. The dog snarled at me and two others came from behind him. I started to cry. I didn’t know what to do. I hugged the ground. Then I heard barking and more snarling. Bear had come to my rescue! I got up and ran to Jurgen’s side.
Bear was starting to disappear into the middle of the dog pack. I thought I wouldn’t see him come out alive.  But then he rose to the top like a Phoenix. He bit and barked his way to the gate, pushing them away from me. He chased them out of our yard and back into the corner of theirs.
I followed along the fence with Jurgen hurrying right behind me. I stopped to look into the next yard from a crack in the fence. Another dog was fighting his way into the circle to get a shot at Bear. I wanted to cry but I knew the fight wasn’t over yet. Bear defeated the others throwing them to the side one at a time.
Behind us, Mom came out with the pitcher of lemonade. When she hard the growling she dropped it and ran. Darn, a good pitcher of homemade lemonade dripping on to the dirt. Peter came outside and picked up the pitcher. But he was oblivious to the fact that Bear was in danger.
I kept watching as the last dog backed away from Bear. Then Bear walked back to our yard with his head held high. There was blood on his coat from the other dog’s wounds but none of his own.
There was a rip in his ear but that was the only injury I could find on him. Peter was climbing a tree watching us close the gate.  Bear followed me around all that day.
Bear and I were the same age almost. Bear had a different owner who was kind of abusive. The dog came to our house for comfort, but he knew if his owner knew where he was he would be in big trouble.
The next day I was lounging around the house feeling sorry for Bear. His owner followed him to our house.
“I’m killing this dog,” the man yelled at Jurgen. “I found him digging up my wife’s garden to come under the fence and see you.”
I saw a pistol hanging from his belt. I swallowed hard. I wanted to yell but Jurgen spoke first.
“I don’t think so,” Jurgen said firmly. “The dog can stay with us. Yesterday he fought off a pack of dogs that were going to attack my little girl. He deserves to live, don’t you think?”
The man left without saying another word.
“Jurgen…” Mom yelled after the man left. “He could have shot you!” There was relief and anger in her voice. I hung onto Jurgen’s leg.
“Maybe,” Jurgen said shrugging his shoulders. “I figure he thought it wasn’t worth shooting or arguing with a stupid old man.”
Since those days Bear and I have had a long time to connect. Bear had a tumor last year and we spent a lot of money on him. Now we call him “The Million Dollar Dog” but actually–he is priceless.

About the Author: Brigit is ten years old. She loves animals and writing.

About Judith Costello

A certified art therapist, Judith is the author of numerous articles and books on parenting and child development, including Zen Parenting. She writes from Moriarty, New Mexico.