4.

At this time I need to back up to the beginning
of Ms Bear's life with us and tell you about
another member of our family.

A few months after Ms Bear came to live with us
another blessed event took place. Sarah, Ms Bear
and I went driving in the truck on a Saturday
afternoon in the beautiful Sumner County
countryside. As we traveled down a deserted
backroad, I saw a little black animal struggling
to climb out of a ditch. I stopped to see whether
I could help. It was a little black female Labrador
Retriever puppy. We couldn't drive away and leave
that little dog to die. Sarah and I decided that we
should take the puppy home and on Monday we
would take her to the Humane Shelter.

Sarah held her on the way home with Ms Bear
watching intently. We took her home and fed her,
made a bed for her, and issued strict orders to
Ms Bear to not bother that puppy. When the little
critter first got up to stretch her legs, she went
straight to Ms Bear. Ms Bear seemed to like this
attention from a canine puppy and the puppy seemed
to think Ms Bear was her mother dog. All day on
Sunday Ms Bear stood watch over the puppy. On
Monday I was busy and I pretended to forget that
we were to take the puppy to the Humane Shelter.
Sarah was also busy and she didn't mention taking
the puppy away. Days went by and Ms Bear and the
puppy proved compatible. Neither Sarah or I
mentioned the Humane Shelter. The puppy fit right
into our routine with no problems.

A few weeks later we began joking about the puppy.
Sarah and I would both say things like, "Remember,
tomorrow we must take this puppy to the Humane
Shelter." The other would say, "Right." When friends
came to visit we would say, "Tomorrow we are taking
this puppy to the Humane Shelter". It became a big
joke among our friends and when they called on
the phone the first thing they asked was, "I guess
you took the puppy to the Humane Shelter." We would
reply, "No, Ms Bear won't let her go." At some
point during this time the puppy became known as
Loretta.

Ms Bear and Loretta were both house dogs. They
lived inside most of the time. I built a large
heated dog house and they hated it. They wanted
to stay inside. We wanted Ms Bear inside but
after the first year with us, Loretta became so
big and heavy that we preferred that she stay
outside. Loretta had a different preference so
she stayed inside more than out.

Loretta could walk under Ms Bear when we first
brought her home. Soon she was as tall as Ms Bear.
Eventually she was very large compared to Ms Bear
and Ms Bear could walk under Loretta. Loretta was
the complete opposite of Ms Bear; from the day we
picked her up she would not leave the yard. Also
she hated riding. When it was time to get her a
Rabies shot each year it took two of us to load her
into the car or truck. She refused to cooperate. She
was terrified at the prospect of getting into a
vehicle. Sarah always said it was because Loretta
remembered us picking her up on the side of the
road and bringing her home in a vehicle and that
made her think we were taking her away: to the
Humane Shelter, no doubt.

Loretta was different in manners too. Stand in the
way of where she was going and she just might push
you over. Offer her food in your fingers and she
might take your hand also. It wasn't necessary to
feed her Alpo Beef Chunks; anything edible was OK.
She wasn't above pushing her luck when it came to
getting food.

One afternoon we had a lady friend, Linda, stop in
to eat. Sarah and Linda prepared some delicious
Dagwood sandwiches. We all went out to the den to
eat and watch TV. Linda chose a seat on the couch
because it was low, comfortable, and it had wide
flat arm rests on each end, which were ideal to use
as a resting place for a sandwich platter. She sat
on the left hand end of the couch and Sarah and I
sat to the right of her. Loretta sat near the sandwich
end, quiet, alert, and her gaze was fixed on that
sandwich, literally.

Linda was busy talking and looking our way when she
absent mindedly laid her sandwich on the dish which
lay on the flat couch arm. A moment later she
reached for her sandwich and there wasn't any. The
dish was empty. Loretta wasn't empty. She licked
her mouth and she looked very satisfied.

Ms Bear watched this behavior and I think she was
embarrassed by the spectacle. No doubt she was
thinking, "Loretta, I raised you better than that".
Linda was a dog owner too and she liked Loretta so
there was no problem, she just made another sandwich
and this time, she ate it. We all had a good laugh
over that and we never forgot to watch out for
Loretta when there was food around.

Linda also had a dog that only its master could
love. His name was Stash. Linda lived alone in a
big house about two blocks away from us. She had
lived a very full life as the wife of a Country
Music Superstar. When they divorced after many
years of marriage, she lived alone with Stash.
Stash reminded me of a groundhog. I won't try to
describe Stash any further than that. You wouldn't
believe it anyway. Stash had a favorite trick that
Linda always bragged about. Stash would go to a
lady's purse and search for money while no one
was looking. When he found paper money he would
take it to Linda. Friends were not amused. Stash
also liked vodka. That suited Linda just fine
because there was forever vodka in Linda's house.
In fact one might say that there was a fresh
supply of vodka every day so Stash became a bit
of a drunk. Linda's love for that dog proved to
me that there is someone somewhere to love
everything and everyone.

Well, my dogs were really, really, lovable. Really.

Since Loretta was a homebody she never became the
friend and confidant that Ms Bear was. Loretta was
a big, black hugable dog who never left the security
of our yard except to see the Vet once a year.

It was Ms Bear, my aloof, independent, mighty
hunter, electronics savvied, well mannered, well
traveled co-pilot who was my constant companion
protecting me from "cows" on the highways and
byways of our travels.

These travels took us to work in Miami, Nashville,
Louisville, Indianapolis, Tampa, and various
points on the Mississippi River sub-contracting
Alarm Systems and Marine Electrical work. We
headquartered out of the home in Hendersonville, TN
so we were really on the road for days at a time
while Sarah and Loretta took care of things at home.

A good thing about our sub-contracting was that
we didn't have to hit the road any more often than
I wanted to. So while we traveled a lot over the
nine years Ms Bear was with us, we also had a good
home life in TN. I was able to keep up repairs
on the property and every summer I had a good
vegetable garden while Sarah cultivated her flowers.

In 1987 due to some trouble I had with my knees,
I stopped traveling. I continued to work in
electronics repair and I took a part-time job
in my former occupation: broadcasting. I worked 
the Saturday and Sunday morning on-air shift and
Ms Bear was always with me in the control room.
We had many visitors to the radio station and
Ms Bear was treated like a regular staff member.
Visitors expected to see her and listeners expected
to hear something about her every week.
Several dog owners would call and tell our listeners
about their dogs. I could ask Ms Bearto say, "Hello"
to our listeners and she would oblige. I wouldn't
even consider going to broadcast without Ms Bear.
Her audience was probably bigger than mine.

By 1991 were just so busy enjoying the good life
that we never suspected that a dark cloud of gloom
was gathering and it would soon overwhelm us.

4.

Loretta Dog joins the family. Ms Bear gets a friend.
This is Page 4.
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