As I wrote a bit over three years ago when we lost Rainier, having a pet eventually means having to say goodbye. I understand why some people can only do this once, as it hurts so much. But it deprives you of the chance to share the love of another dog.
Last night, we had to say goodbye to our beloved little Teddy Bear – our Maltese Terrier / Yorkshire Terrier mix, and the alpha of our dogs.
Teddy was our next dog after we lost Frosty three years earlier.
Terri had gotten him to be a therapy dog, and with his brown coat he was quickly named Teddy Bear; the name stuck,but his coat didn’t, as his adult hair color slowly changed to white.
At the time we had two cats (Sunny and Sebastian), and Teddy was raised by them and played with them. We think he thought he was a cat as he never barked.
That is, until one day when I was home alone with him when he was about two years old. He was listening to something outside and he uttered a first tentative “ruff” followed by an even more assertive “ruff”. I remember he seemed surprised by what he had done, and he barked at every opportunity after that.
We were always amazed that he was barking at things before we heard anything like a delivery truck.
And I think I heard his last bark yesterday.
The other dogs were barking at a delivery truck and I heard one loud final bark from him. There was a symmetry in that and it was his final announcement that he was here.
As a clinic therapy dog, Teddy was without peer. He assisted Terri with almost 8,000 therapy sessions.
Terri used to send him from the treatment room to the waiting area to bring in new patients. If he liked them, he would stand on his rear legs and wave his front paws at them. He was a loving little dog that liked to be petted and sit on people’s laps, and touched the hearts of everyone he met.
Whenever I’ve mentioned his name to anyone that met him, they’d always smile and say “Little Teddy – what a sweet dog”.
He was sweet, but he was also a smart little dog.
At one of the locations where Terri had her clinic, on arrival, Terri would set him down and he’d walk down the sidewalk to the side of the building to do his business and then come back without being called or distracted.
We always believed he understood every word we said even when we weren’t addressing him.
Mention of “toe nails” meant he’d run and hide.
And he was formal and wanted to be acknowledged as alpha.
When we came home, he expected to be greeted. The other dogs would take a head rub or two but he wanted to be acknowledged by name and then petted.
Teddy expected to be fed at the agreed upon times and if you failed to serve the meal then, he’d come by and let you know it was time
Same when he wanted one of his favorite treats.
With his dark black eyes, he’d stare at you until he got his way. He was smart enough to know if you changed your focus to something else, he’d move until he got to a place where he could eyeball you again.
When we walked with the dogs on leash he always wanted to be slightly ahead of the other dogs and us so everyone knew who was leading.
We’d announce “bedtime”, and the other dogs would go running upstairs, but he would wait until he knew everyone (including Terri and me) were going upstairs. He saw that as his role as alpha.
And he wasn’t timid.
We called him “small but mighty” after we watched him walk up to a 120-pound German Shepherd and stick his nose in its face. Not bad for a ten-pound dog.
We took him on several bike rides with us, with Terri carrying him in a backpack – his little head poking out so he could see where we were going. He never showed fear – about the only thing he didn’t like were the Doggles we tried to use to protect his eyes, as they were hot and steamed up.
Having had him for almost 15 years means it’s difficult to remember a time when he wasn’t part of our lives.
There are so many memories but three stand out for me.
When Terri was studying The Feldenkrais Method up in Kirkland (we were living in Kent then), she used to take Teddy with her – Teddy would spend his time in the back of her car happily snuggled up in a blanket until she came out at lunch.
She got a plush raised seat for him and we locked it into the front passenger seat. That allowed him to see everything as they were driving to and from home.
I used to go down to the garage when they got home and I remember all the times with him looking around with certainty and pride as she pulled into the garage.
We used to have Teddy sleep on our bed with us – we had a small blanket arranged between us and Teddy would sleep on that.
However, when winter came, he used to walk up to the head of the bed and work his way under the blanket and top sheet and crawl next to me and lay against my thigh – trusting in me and unafraid I might roll onto him (I never did).
And finally, after we moved to Gig Harbor, one day I took him and Oliver to the off leash dog park. Oliver would roam forward and then come back – but Teddy had a tendency to wander off and required watching.
There was one turn I made and he followed. Then after a bit of travel I turned and he was gone. I retraced my steps and still no Teddy.
Twenty minutes of panicked searching finally had me go up a side trail. We saw each other and he came bounding down the trail with a look of happiness and excitement. As I bent over to pick him up, he leapt into my arms.
How could you not love a little dog like that?
Now he’s gone from us to be with Frosty, Rainier and our daughter’s Annabelle – playing with them and likely reasserting himself as the pack leader.
I know he – and they – will be waiting to greet us when it’s our turn to join them.
Until then, he’ll live in our hearts.
Teddy Bear: February 6th, 2008 – October 26th, 2022