Copyright 2000-2002
Howard D. Dickens


In 1994 when Mr Bear was three years old, Sarah
died of a massive stroke. I had reached the age for
early retirement so I decided that Mr Bear and I
would travel. I didn't have any destination in mind,
but there was a lot of the country that I hadn't
seen so it seemed like a good idea to prepare the
old Suburban and just take off for parts unknown.
I worked several days, getting the truck ready.
Meanwhile, one of my sons convinced me that I should
come and spend some time with his family so instead
of traveling many miles to parts unknown, I put most
of my belongings in storage and Mr Bear and I went
for a brief stay at my son's house which was located
about thirty miles away. The brief stay turned into
years because in addition to my son and my
daughter-in-law, I had four grandchildren in that
house and four other grown children nearby who
provided me with ten more grandchildren so it wasn't
easy to ride off into the sunset with a total of
five children, their spouses, and fourteen
grandchildren wanting me to stay in the area; so
Mr Bear and I quickly settled in as grandpa and
his dog.

On our first night in our new home, we had
dinner with the family. My son, daughter-in-law,
and four children and myself sat down at the
table. The children were excited about grandpa
and Mr Bear living in their home and they set a
dinner plate on the floor close to the table for
Mr Bear. Dinner was going very well until my
grandson Stevie decided that Mr Bear needed
some more food. He leaned over to place a piece
of meat on Mr Bear's plate. Mr Bear, not being
accustomed to children, saw the hand moving
toward his plate. Guess what happened next?

Yes. Mr Bear bit Stevie. It wasn't a serious bite
but it was serious to me. I put Mr Bear outside
and after we all settled down, dinner continued.
That was the first and only time I ever let a
stranger approach Mr Bear when he is eating. It
is OK to hand Mr Bear a treat; he takes it gently
from your hand. But I never allow people,
especially children, to approach him when he is
eating his meal. Also, I never leave him near
small children or allow small children to touch
him without my supervision. He was never near
small children as a puppy and I won't take the
chance that he might be aggressive toward them.
After that first confusing dinner in our new
home, Mr Bear settled down to life in his new

Mr Bear's life was very different after we moved
away from the city. There, he came in contact
with adults only and he had a big back yard that
was bordered by a thick woods and there were
several paths that led to the lake. He had been free
to run and wander and to jump in the lake after
fish any time that we weren't on the road to
someplace. At his new home, there were small children
and many stray dogs and always the possibility that
in the woods there could be encounters with dangerous
wild animals. Naturally, he wasn't aware that the
country could be more dangerous than the city suburbs
so it became necessary for him to stay even closer to
me than before.

My son's house is a big split level. I had a ground floor basement room with a back door that opened onto a
big back yard and beyond that, a wooded area leading
into a deep valley. My first thought was that Mr Bear
would have many rabbits and squirrels to chase, but
I was wrong about that. For some reason that I don't understand, there were no rabbits and no squirrels.
I was sorry that Mr Bear wouldn't have small wildlife
to play with, but Mr Bear always found interesting
ways to occupy himself and he was soon happily
running through the fields and woods and up and
down the steep hillside.

He also developed a new game. I established a
pattern of watching TV and working with
electronics in the evening while Mr Bear played
outside. While concentrating on my work, I became
aware that Mr Bear was making a different kind of
bark than usual.

He would go 'arf, arf, arf' pause, then, 'arf, arf, arf'
pause, then, 'arf, arf, arf' pause. After listening to
this pattern for a while, I just had to go see what he
was arf, arf, arfing about.

I looked out the door and I saw Mr Bear
standing at attention, looking intently toward
the ground. Suddenly, without changing his gaze,
he went, 'arf, arf, arf' and when he paused,
from just in front of his nose, a big frog jumped
and landed several inches away.
Mr Bear moved quietly to just behind the frog
and again he went, 'arf, arf, arf' pause,
and the frog jumped again. I watched this for a
while, then I went back to work and Mr Bear
and the frog continued their game until
I called Mr Bear in at bedtime. This behavior
continued every night all summer, and the next
summer, and as long as we stayed in that house.
Did frogs enjoy this game? I don't know,
but in the summertime, a frog returned every
night to the same place and hopped around openly
in the yard with Mr Bear following closely
behind going, 'arf, arf, arf'. There were plenty
of places where the frog could have hidden if it
didn't like the game.

Mr Bear also likes crickets, grasshoppers and
other insects. He loves to make them hop, run,
or fly. Any time he spots one, he focuses his
attention on it with his nose right behind it
and he arf, arf, arfs until it moves. He amuses
himself for hours playing the arf, arf, arf game.

He likes to bark at any noise-making object
especially motorcycles. My son Steve had
a big motorcycle which he sometimes rode
to work. Any time that motorcycle started up,
Mr Bear came to attention. There was a time
that I would let him chase the motorcycle out
of the yard because I thought it would be
harmless exercise for him. Also, I couldn't
stop him from chasing the motorcycle unless
I held him back. One morning Steve left for
work on the motorcycle with Mr Bear running
full speed right behind him. I called for
Mr Bear to come back but all he had on his mind
was chasing that motorcycle. I saw him pass the
motorcycle and start crisscrossing in front of it.

The last I saw of them was Steve trying
to get away from the barking dog. A few
minutes later, the barking dog had become
a limping dog headed for the house as
quickly as he could limp. Then Steve
rode back into the yard to check on
Mr Bear. Steve explained that he couldn't
get away from Mr Bear without changing
gears. At the exact instant that Steve
changed gears (which caused the front
wheel of the cycle to lift up and shift
all the weight to the back wheel), Mr Bear
crossed in front of the cycle, which hit
him and knocked him tumbling to the side
of the road. If Steve hadn't been changing gears,
the full weight of the cycle would have crushed
Mr Bear. After being assured that Mr Bear
wasn't hurt, Steve rode away to work.

Mr Bear was limping, but he could walk
and he didn't seem to have any broken
bones. I called the Vet who said that
under the circumstances, just keep a watch
on Mr Bear. Mr Bear limped around for a
couple of days, otherwise, he suffered no
ill effects. He still hates motorcycles and
he would still chase them but I don't let
him even close to one.


Sarah dies. Mr Bear and I move away.
Mr Bear loved to ride.
Helping me study.
Waiting for Santa.
He enjoyed playing in the snow.
I left his coat long in the winter to keep him warm.
Mr Bear enjoyed fooball on TV.
Mr Bear 2002.
This is Page 10.