|Bear and his owner, Sue, live in Hammonton, New Jersey|
July 28, 1998
Weight: 115 lbs.
Significance of name: My dad, Francis, who died in 2001, named him.
IQ: 130. He understands everything, but I can't explain to him what a thunderstorm is. Sometimes he's as dumb as a post and at other times he's so smart it's scary. One year just before Christmas, I was wrapping presents and Bear brought over something from his toy box -- a Christmas tree squeak toy! I think it was more than a coincidence because he seldom played with that toy. He loves Christmas. He unwraps his own gifts. When Dad was alive, I was sorting some stuff in one room and Dad was in another room. I put a few small items in a slipper and I asked Bear to bring it to Dad. Bear did it without hesitation.
He's ordinarily a sweet, lovable teddy bear. When there's thunder, I call him my "armpit bull" -- he sticks his head under my arm and suddenly I find I have a 115-pound lap dog. He has an assortment of barks. There's the I-mean-business bark, reserved for strangers; the friendly bark (with a little howl at the end) for people he knows; and, of course, there's the throw-that-ball-already-would-ya bark.
Favorite toy/game: He's no couch potato. He wants to play from the minute I get up until I leave for work; and when I come home, he greets me at the door with a toy in his mouth. He will also coerce anyone into playing "tug" with him (see photo) at every opportunity. After I throw a ball and he catches it, he does a "victory lap": He runs into the dining room, goes once around the dining room table, comes back into the den (where I'm sitting), then runs through the kitchen, through the hall foyer, through the living room, and then into the dining room and back to the den.
Favorite thing to chew: large rubber bone. He doesn't chew up things he's not supposed to -- except for the car. If a stranger approaches the car (while he's inside it), he gets VERY aggressive and starts biting the upholstery or anything he can get his teeth into. But he never chews anything in the house.
Antics: He likes to "steal" socks and slippers -- he moves them around the house. He's very proud of himself as he does this -- he will prance about, looking like he's thinking "nyah-nyah-I've-got-this-and-you-don't." Outside, he likes to run in circles around one particular tree -- he's created a trench a foot deep. Perhaps it has to do with a herding instinct.
Favorite people food: ice cream, liverwurst
Bear's favorite person (other than Sue): her sister, Therese
If Bear could talk, he'd say: "We gonna play now?"
TV preferences: Animal Planet, especially America's Funniest Animals. If he sees a dog he doesn't like, he'll bark at the TV. He's not too big on people programs.
Strong likes/dislikes: He loves water and will stay in my sister's pool indefinitely. I took him to the beach in May and the water was really cold. He followed me in -- 100 yards out -- and swam with me. He hates horses and barks at them. I have to be sure to keep him on a lead if I notice hoof prints while we're out walking.
On a scale of 1 to 10, how obedient is he?: 9+. He was trained by my friend Donna, who is a dog trainer. I can take him to work and he'll stay in my office (with the door open) without wandering off. He comes when I call him, he gives me his paw when I ask for it, and he will "speak" on command.
Feeding the deer: We have deer on the property (see photo) and I put out food and water for them every day (we're very aware of ticks here and I do what I can to protect us). Bear loves to accompany me when I feed them. The deer will be only 5 to 6 feet away and Bear doesn't chase them or bark. And he goes through the same ritual each day: he runs two circles around the woodshed, two circles around a pine tree, and two circles around a tree to the right. And he times it perfectly, so that he runs directly in front of me as I'm coming out the door with the stuff for the deer. After that's done, we come back inside, and Bear will bring me his food dish -- from wherever he happened to leave it. If he forgets, I'll say, "Where's your dish?" and he will retrieve it.
Least appreciated thing Bear does: When I let him out into the yard, he'll stare at my neighbor's dog -- a female white Lab -- instead of doing his business.
Comment: Bear will always protect me -- except from a thunderstorm.
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