In his speech class at college, Daniel's instructor asked each of them to write a story for the "This I Believe" contest which is sponsored each year by NPR. The author of the winning story will win $200. This is the story that Daniel submitted. He still needs to pare it down some as it can only be 550 words. I think it is very good. It actually moved me and Ed to tears when we read it. Of course, we knew the faithful canine that it is written about. *smile*
A dog makes the best of friends. You see, I was an only child. At the age of six, my dad found a puppy in a briar patch next to our lane. This puppy would become my pseudo-sibling and best friend during my growing-up years and, in retrospect, I believe I was blessed to have this beloved canine companion as compared to another little human being. You see, we never argued. We never fought over taking turns at anything. In fact, we agreed on most everything, if my memory serves me correctly. Yep, whatever I wanted to do, Bear did it with the enthusiasm that only a dog possesses. And even though Bear was a female, she and I didn’t have the usual boy-girl fights. No, it seems that ours was a mutually-balanced relationship. When I wanted to just lay around, relax and watch a movie, Bear was content to do the same. She would stretch out beside me with a look of complete contentment on her face. Or if I wanted to go outside and go sledding, she was eager and ready to go, many times riding the sled down the hill with me. We had a ball together those many winters. I remember how she would put her snout down in the snow and just go plowing through, eating it as she went.
I had a pair of bright orange boxing gloves and while I didn’t have a punching bag, I had Bear and she loved to box with me. When she would see those gloves come out, she was on her feet and ready to go at it, her tail furiously beating the air. I remember giving her some pretty stiff upper cuts but she just came back for more. Oh, the times we had! Her teeth ripped some pretty substantial holes in those gloves but not so much so that we couldn’t still have our regular bouts.
If I decided to go hunting, Bear was all for it. When she saw me come out the door with my orange hat on and my hunting gear in hand, she just went wild, jumping around, eager to get on the trail of whatever we were pursuing that day. She was a perfect hunting companion, unlike most female humans I know. I remember how quietly she would sit beside me in the woods, not twitching a muscle, listening intently, waiting for me to make the first move. When I would finally shoot a squirrel, she would be off like a bolt of lightning to retrieve our catch. I believe this was her favorite activity that we shared in.
Bear was a great traveling companion, too. No matter how fast or how far I rode my bike, she was right with me. I somehow felt that she was there to protect me and watch over me in her own way, too.
I believe that my early years were so much richer and fuller because of Bear. I can only imagine how lonely my childhood might have been had I not had her constant companionship. I could talk to her freely knowing there would be no judgments coming from her or hasty opinions. No, she just let me talk things out with her and sort them all out in my own time. Can you put a price on that sort of thing? I don’t think so.
Yes, God knew what He was doing when He allowed that little ball of fur to be caught in the briar patch all those many years ago. He knew a little boy that needed the quiet loyalty and companionship of a good dog in his growing-up years.
Yes, I believe in the value of canine companions. Bearly Diane Cavinee was mine. She died unexpectedly when she was about twelve years old. I can’t imagine that I would have grieved any more for a human sister than I did for Bear.
Today, my wife and I have four dogs that live with us. Heidi, the boxer, is my girl and though I love her to death, there will never be a dog like Bear. You see, she was my first. My growing-up girl.