My Three Bears

Jerry Martin

© Copyright 2002 by Jerry Martin

This is a true story in the lives of plain everyday 
people.  The setting is in an isolated area several 
miles from any main highway in the early 1980's 
and the scenario could fit any American family.


Photo of one of Jerry's three Bears.


In our lifetimes, most of us dog lovers do have many dogs and although I have never had a dog that I owned die of old age some stand out in my memory as real pals of mine. Some were stupid as a stump and others were brilliant and loyal.

This is a true story about my dogs, all named Bear.  These were brilliant dogs.

In 1979 we sold out and moved from the big city of Houston and bought forty five acres northwest of the big city.  We were outside of some little off-the-beaten-track town and even then about six to eight miles off the main Farmers road. We were isolated. We had freedom to an extent. I had five screeching children who literally were horse crazy. They all had horses except for the two smallest. Well, what is a farm without a dog to romp with my children?

I had heard from a friend that some people in a neighboring town had a female dog that had given birth to a litter and wanted to give them away free. So we loaded up and went there. My herd of urchins piled out from my camper enclosed truck and was anxious to inspect the prospective pups. All were jumping up and down, shrieking with excitement.

The Papa dog was unknown but was probably a Beagle as half the litter was Beagle looking and the others took after the Mother who was a mixture of many. A light brown distant collie perhaps. A medium size dog as were her pups to be.

We sat down with the pups and the Mother dog was friendly allowing us to handle the pups and the pups were more than cooperative tumbling this way and that, each pup trying to wiggle up and get it's fair share of attention, giving in return many dog kisses, love bites, and nips. Everyone was elated. They were ready for play and sensed they had found some willing people and that the feeling was mutual. The owner was hoping we would take all of them (five left) and after much cooing and fawning we all agreed on a little frisky, well mannered Beagle looking pup and the children agreed to name him "Bear." We took Bear home and he made himself at home immediately and became part of the family. Weather was getting cold so we brought Bear inside the house on cold days and nights. The thing that impressed me about this little pup was he was house broke at once.

When he had to relieve himself (and he was only about seven weeks old) he would go by the front door and whine and scratch on it indicating he wanted out. He would go out in the yard, do his thing and come back to be let back in. If no one noticed him he would yodel out his little Beagle bay with all his puppy might and fall over from the effort, which we all thought was funny and cute. Very impressive.

A few days later another neighbor I was talking to had a left over German Shepherd (mixed) female pup no one wanted about three months old so I loaded her up and took her home also. Another dog to feed wasn't nothing.

The dogs would follow the children everywhere and such a team was reassuring. I could tell the female dog was kind of stupid, just how stupid I was soon to find out.

Then school started and our little road was one mile away from another small dirt farm road and the children would walk down there every school day to catch the school bus.

It only took about two times when I drove out to the intersection where the children caught the bus and found the body of the German Shepherd dog. I figured the dogs followed the kids there and she had been run over by something.

But where was little Bear? I started looking all over the area, calling and could find no pup. There wasn't many people coming back there and I went to the closest neighbor and asked what they knew about anything pertaining to my dog.

The were long retired and all they had to do was sit on their swing on the front porch and watch a car go by, wave and grin. They replied the only one they saw on the road was a bull dozer operator who was clearing some land further down the road. I drove over to speak with him and he said he saw the dead dog and the little Beagle pup standing over her body as if he was guarding it. He said he drove on by and didn't bother them. I am willing to bet to this day, that was the man who stole my pup so that ends the story of Bear 1. I never saw or heard about that little dog again and I was bothered.

We became saddened and were attached to the smart little dog in a short period of time and came to a family agreement the next Saturday that we had to go back to the source and get another pup if they had any left. So Saturday came and we got all loaded up and went back to the puppy place again. Alas, there was only one pup left which made up our minds what to take. We named him Bear 2. He was of medium height, a light brown with white collie-like markings. And a very good disposition like his brother we had just lost.

When we came back, I brought my trailer and bought five sheep from the people which included a ram. Nasty old fellow. So back at home, life was going on and all was well. We had plenty of animals, horses, goats, sheep, pigs and chickens and I lost money on all seeing as how I didn't know anything about raising them.

The kids taught themselves to ride the gentle horses well, with or without saddles. Soon they were tearing around at breakneck speed like wild little Indians. The dog was right with them barking with happiness and excitement. He was family. All would come back to the house winded and always hungry. Life was simple and peaceful then. I miss it.

One day we were on the porch and unbeknowest to me the children had been teaching Bear a few things and he was very bright and seemed to know what you wanted. One of the children would command; Bear sit, stand, lay down, speak, shake hands, roll over and the dog without hesitation went through the commands flawlessly. I was very impressed and sometimes when I would drive the six miles to the local post office I would take Bear and have him put on a show and he was very delighted to do it. The old cronies who had nothing to do but sit on the front porch talking about the weather and cackled at each other were happy to meet such a smart, well mannered dog. I put Bear through his tricks and the old boys wheezed with laughter and were impressed. All came up to Bear and said "shake!" Bear stuck out his paw to be shook by the old gentlemen's hand and the talk started about how smart Bear was and was such a well mannered dog.

Well, Bear didn't stay on the place all the time, he had business to take care of and he found his way over to another neighbor's place who had a fine young female dog whose time it was to come in season. Bear had been sneaking over there for some time playing with the dog biding his time. For a few days Bear didn't come home at all. He was in love. The neighbors informed us Bear was over their place making baby dogs. I knew it would only be a short time before he would no longer be welcome by his "wife."

A few days later Bear came trotting back home with a satisfied dog grin on his face and resumed the duties of family dog. I had a Aunt and Uncle living about a hundred miles away and decided to go pay them a visit.  I took Bear along for company and he stayed outside and I went in to visit for a while. Bear wasn't allowed inside. We talked about twenty minutes and I said come on outside, I want you to meet a smart dog. We all went outside and looked for Bear and I called for him. Bear was gone. We drove up and down the road in front of my Uncles house and all the side roads and looked all downtown which wasn't far away but no sign of Bear. We had him perhaps almost a year and now I had to go home and face my children to inform them Bear had literally disappeared. That was a hard thing for me to do. I never saw or heard from Bear 2 again. Another fine dog lost. We were all heart broken.

Everyone around who knew Bear and us knew we were saddened over our loss. I did run newspaper ads in the small town where I lost him and my relatives kept a sharp look out for him. We never heard another word about Bear 2 again. Goodbye Bear 2, we'll never forgot you.

A few weeks later my neighbors informed me that Bear 2 had left his descendants behind and they had a fresh litter of puppies a few days ago. We were promised another pup that looked just like Bear 2. Sadly, the owner of the litter had a fetish about dogs tails. He seemed to think that dogs shouldn't have tails. So before I could say anything, out came the hatchet and "WHACK" off came all the little pups tails. I didn't like it but it was his dogs. (for the time being.)

So we did get a bob-tailed dog that turned out to be more brilliant that any dog I have ever owned to this very day. Same colors and disposition. The little dog looked just like his Dad except he only had a nub of a tail. Quickly he learned all the tricks his Dad had plus more and he seemed to know what you were going to do and what you wanted.


Bear 3 became part of the family very rapidly.  Iit seemed as if Bear 2 never left. As Bear matured into a grown dog he not only impressed us but the neighbor as well. He was becoming almost a legend. He was very loyal to us.  If he didn't know someone he would get in between them  and the kids and me. He never showed any temper or aggression but it would not be a good thing to grab one of my kids or me.

He would uncannily follow the children's school bus six miles into the small Post office where he lost the scent when it got to the big black topped highway.  He'd wait under the porch for the return of the bus in the afternoon and follow it back.

Here is a good example of how well mannered he was. One day I had Bear with me and we stopped on the way home to chat with some neighbors and Bear was sitting next to me behaving and the neighbors had a feisty little male Rat terrier named "Scoot." The little dog thought he was eight foot tall and part wolf.

Well, Bear was a male dog and on his territory and the smaller dog was making overtures, wrinkling his lips, showing his teeth and emitting low growls despite the scolding of his masterl. Bear was so polite he resisted even when the little dog would nip him, trying to get a rumble going on. That wasn't enough provoking so Scoot went to his dinner bowl behind the house and took out a left over biscuit he didn't want in the first place. He picked the morsel up and brought it over and put it in front of Bear hoping Bear would try to grab his food, that being excuse enough to get the fight going. Bear kept a gentleman's poise-- refusing to even smell of the tidbit, This really angered the little dog who would bite the biscuit a few times trying to get Bear to salivate.  But being unable to do so, he finally ate it himself.  He went back and got another biscuit and put it in front of Bear again with the same results. After about the third biscuit, the little dog was getting full and couldn't provoke any action.  This irritated him even more. He would lay there and growl, wiggle on his side and back, growl, show his teeth, and dare Bear to try and take it. Bear was above reproach. Scoot would bat the biscuit back and forth between his paws and nonchalantly try to ease it closer to tempt Bear all the time wrinkling his nose and showing his teeth bewildered why he couldn't get a fight going.

I think Bear could have whipped that little snip with one paw tied behind him but he was on good behavior. Good dog Bear and I did praise him. We left a very frustrated Scoot and laughing neighbor. The elderly neighbor told me a story about Scoot one time. The old man was sitting in his cradle swing underneath his shade tree enjoying what little life he had left with his dog always nearby ready to walk with the old fellow when he did walk. The old man stood up and Scoot was underneath the swing, too close to the old gent, and he stepped on Scoots foot. Scoot was probably dreaming of a good dog fight and woke abruptly in serious pain and bit the offending object which was the old mans ankle. Scoot immediately gasped with horror at the unpardonable sin he had committed and ran to hide under the house for the rest of the day. The old man laughed about that also.

Sometimes I would drive off to play cards with friends in the night.  I would not take Bear and I went on heavily wooded back roads.  I'd be sitting at the table and when I looked up there would be Bear, peeping in the window and standing on his hind legs.  He would be smiling his dog smile and looking to see if I was OK and what I was doing. While waiting for me to finish Bear would lie underneath the truck and when I finished I would give him a ride back home. He not only found me but came to  the right window where I was out.

Sometimes when we were out doing a little night hunting I would be going anywhere from five to twenty miles through forests, winding roads where anyone could get lost and when we were getting ready to go, here was Bear trotting up. He ALWAYS found me. After many miles of this Bear was getting tired and let me know with a few worried barks that he wanted in back of the truck and so I would let him ride back. His ability to find me was uncanny. Sometimes when Bear was riding on the seat beside me he would look at me with adoring eyes and give my hand a warm, moist, lick confirming his love for the head of the pack.

Like I said I had bought some sheep (mistake) and after several months and in the hot weather I could see these animals were suffering with all that heavy wool on them so I decided to shear them but couldn't find anyone interested in doing it. So I tried. (mistake) The best way I knew of to catch a sheep is lure them in close with a little feed and grab one and do what you are going to do. I think the sheep were reading my mind because the first one I grabbed got away after dragging me around a good bit and we as a family tried chasing them every which way in order to herd them into a little corral we built. The sheep were not going to have any of it. Bear was observing and got the message of what we were trying to do and with no prompting became a sheep dog. Those sheep were whistling around this way and that and Bear was speedily heading them off and sending them back to us with a nip here and there letting the sheep know who was in charge. I threw a sheep down and after much baaing, struggling, cussing and trying to shear a sheep, it got up and the other sheep laughed out their bleats of how silly the sheep looked. It was so pathetic I left the others alone.

Bear got along with everyone and everybody liked everybody. Bear had one shady spot and that was his in front of the house. No other animals were permitted there.  He never bit any of them but he let it be known this was his little Kingdom and "NO TRESPASSING!"  Intimidation was enough. If a chicken ventured too close, a low growl was enough to send the bird scurrying off. I had two young horses who knew this and they like to aggravate Bear when he was trying to catch up on a afternoon snooze. They would come creeping quietly up to Bear who was pretending he was asleep and exhale heavily on him blowing up a little cloud of dust and debris. Bear would leap up and growl, bark and scream with all his dog might and the horde would go roaring down the hill in a cloud of dust. After he decided he had ran them out of his territory he would trot back to his nest, circle it and settle down to wait for the next intrusion. The young horses were game and this went on several times before the colts tired and went off to amuse themselves with some other animal.

I got a good laugh out of one of the colts when she was nosing around a bee hive I had. Out of curiosity or the smell of something sweet, she stuck her nose right in the entrance and was rewarded with a bee stinging her on the nose. She being confused at what had happened and backed of and vigorously rubbed her stinging nose on the grass for a long time.

Bear was always ready for a game of "tag." Sometimes in the cool of the evening when all was peaceful we maybe doing something in the front yard and Bear always being close by was ready for anything. I would peep out of the corner of my eye and see that Bear was peeping back at me out of the corner of his. Both of us were thinking mischievous things. When Bear would close his mouth and stand very still I knew he was ready. With a huff and a feigned lunge at him from me, the game was on. Bear would tear around me in circles running around me as fast as he could with his happy dog growl and close the distance at times to try and nip or touch my pants leg without getting himself "tagged" in exchange. This was a very happy episode and a show in itself. It wasn't all that easy to touch Bear. He was fast, but I tapped him a few times with a delighted shriek from Bear acknowledging he had been tagged.

One day Bear didn't come back home and I became worried and he didn't answer which wasn't like Bear. The next evening we happened to look outside and there was Bear lying in the yard badly hurt. He apparently had crawled a long way and was badly battered. I figured he may have been run over by a car and probably on purpose as he was too smart of a dog to be careless like that. I gently as I could eased my arms under Bear and lifted him as carefully as I could and carried him inside the house. Bear whimpered in pain but couldn't move. We put him on some comfortable clean bedding and talked to him in soothing tones and carefully, gently, smoothed his fur. All eyes were brimming with tears, we loved Bear.

A blanket of gloom settled over our saddened household. We were losing Bear. Bear wouldn't drink or eat for two or three days but I gently opened his mouth and trickled in some chicken broth to try to whet his appetite and get him interested in life again. This seem to take the death glaze away from his eyes and I put a bowl of chicken broth next to him with some fine slivers of chicken and hoped he would take some nourishment on his on. The delicious smell must have been to much for him as he took a few laps, lay back down to rest and then lap some more.

I knew Bear surly had to relieve himself so I rigged up a small thin board like a stretcher and eased him on it. I picked him up as easy as I could, but even then he groaned with pain. I took him outside and laid him on the grass and left him on his own to do what he could. After a while Bear struggled painfully to his feet and did what he had to and came back and laid on his stretcher again, indicating he wanted to be left outside. I did so but came out in the evening and brought Bear inside again. Our area still had wild wolves and coyotes.

After two weeks Bear could start hobbling around the house. Little by little he got better until he fully recovered and became his good old self again.  You could depend on Bear.  He was a family dog and we were his pack. A completely devoted dog.

Bear's friendliness was probably his undoing. When he followed the school bus to the Post office one day he never came back. Look as we might and ask and ask, we never saw or heard of Bear 3 again.

I remember Bear. He was the best of all the dogs I ever had. Bear was my friend.

Whatever happened to my dogs will always remain a mystery. All three dogs disappeared without a trace. I thank the Almighty God for creating such loving pets and wherever they wound up I hope they were treated well and had a long happy life. It has been a good twenty-one years since this episode closed and I know there would be no chance those dogs would be still living now but they live in our memories.....

Goodbye, Bears.  We loved all of you.


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