Bethlehem Press

Tuesday, May 23, 2017
PRESS PHOTO BY BUD COLELittle Bear, a rescue dog, became part of the family for Bud and Bev Cole. PRESS PHOTO BY BUD COLELittle Bear, a rescue dog, became part of the family for Bud and Bev Cole.

Little Bear, Charcole & Blue The pets that rescue us

Friday, September 2, 2016 by BUD COLE Special to The Press in Focus

The death of a pet is equal to losing a best friend or a close relative.

Dogs give us their full attention and love in return for a simple pat on the head. They don’t hold grudges. They don’t argue. And tail-wags show agreement with everything we say. Our dogs think we are the most important and intelligent people in the world.

I don’t know why, but my wife, Bev, and I somehow found and rescued our last three pets. I found Little Bear on a cold February afternoon in 1996 while I was cross-country skiing along the edge of the neighboring tree farm.

I was about to return home when I heard odd noises in a waist-high weed field. A short time later, the weeds parted and a tiny fur ball appeared. I carried him home inside my coat and he became a loving member of our family. Little Bear quickly outgrew his name, reaching a weight of 96 pounds. He was a gentle giant. We miss his companionship and his loyalty.

When Little Bear was about age nine, we learned he had cancer. An uncomplicated cancer surgery gave us about one year more with him, but the cancer continued to grow. Toward the end, he looked great but he would not eat. He had trouble walking and he began chewing on his right front paw.

Making the decision to euthanize him was very difficult. He lived with us for about 10 years. It took almost three years before I could write about losing him. It’s never easy to come to the decision about euthanizing a loving pet.

The second critter to enter our lives was a small kitten we named Charcole (a pun on our last name, Cole). I was looking for deer tracks in the snow near the summit entrance to Blue Mountain Resort. Bev and I were waiting to meet our Virginia nieces and nephews who were visiting for the weekend.

I was standing next to several mountain laurel bushes when I felt something brush against my boot. A shivering little gray and white kitten was purring and looking up at me. I picked it up and carried it to the van and handed it to Bev just as the Virginians pulled in behind us. We took Charcole with us and we all took turns tubing with him while keeping him warm inside our coats. He was part of the family for 16 years.

For the first nine months after we brought Charcole home he refused to become friends with Bear. They existed on separate floors. Bear tried to make friends, but Char refused, showing his teeth and hissing.

The boys finally became good buddies. Char would sneak up and smack Bear on the head, which caused Bear to take chase. It became a daily game. Soon, Char trusted Bear enough to allow Bear to engulf his entire head in his mouth. When they finished, Char looked as if he were caught in a rain shower.

After Bear died, we were without a dog for about four years before fate struck once more when a beautiful black and white English springer spaniel was found wandering along the edge of the entrance road to Blue Mountain Resort. Bev’s boss found him about 500 yards from where Charcole found me.

When Bev saw the pup, it was love at first sight. She brought the abandoned pup home that night. He came racing up the stairs into the guest room where I was watching TV. What a surprise! He reached up with his paws to shake hands.

We named him Blue. He became my constant companion. I took him with me whenever possible. He was a great hunting dog.

Unfortunately, Blue developed some of the same symptoms as Bear. He wasn’t interested in his food. This started in February shortly after Bev had worked out the logistics to bring Blue into my ICU room for a visit. I’m happy that my last time with Blue was a great reunion. I had not seen him in seven months. Unfortunately, a CAT scan revealed he was full of cancer. Another difficult decision.

Over the years, our three boys provided us with wonderful memories. The two children’s novels I wrote, “The Mystery of Little Bear” and “The Adventures of Bear and Buddy,” are based on many of these memories.

Both dogs were very intelligent, learning commands and tricks without much repetition. Bear won ribbons for his beauty and his tricks while Blue was an excellent hunter and author, writing about his experiences in “Blue’s Views” (under my pen name, of course).

Both pups were my constant shadows. They were good outfielders, catching each Cheerio I tossed in the air knowing their treat would be the banana ends. Both had good appetites and loved fruits and veggies. They both loved car rides. Blue was a talker. We had many conversations and I know he knew exactly what I was taking about.

It would take several columns to share my memories and I know every pet owner recognizes how very difficult it is to finally say goodbye. The positive thing is the great memories live on in our hearts. Please email or call me with your pet memories to be used in a future column.

That’s the way I see it!

To schedule programs, hikes and birthday parties: 610-767-4043; comments: bbbcole@rcn.com

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