Tuesday, March 15, 2016

The Peanut

Bear has been gone three years now.

It is at once a lifetime and a blink of an eye. In some ways it doesn’t feel real at all, as though she could walk into the room at any moment.

We see her every day in every thing. In my mind she walks down the trail through the woods towards the house every morning on the last leg of her casual stroll through the forest, her black shape emerging from the shadows of dark green and dark trunks. Sometimes she is carrying that antler she found, walking a little taller, a skip in her step.

I see her in Chestnut’s need to sit on my lap, drape himself across my arm while I type, how quickly he becomes an immovable furry lump purring his earth shattering purr. “You would be curled up with Bear right now wouldn’t you?” I ask. He used to be her shadow, now he is mine.

Everything we do we grade on a scale of what Bear would think.

“Bear would have loved this!” we say of the beautiful sandy beach and private campsite we found last summer on an out-of-the-way lake, imagining her running along the shore splashing in the water, sand between her toes.

“Bear would not be impressed,” we say to Murdoch and Molly as they troll through the kitchen with their hungry noses and miss half of the good stuff dropped on the floor. We shake our heads. “Bear never missed anything.”

“Bear would be outraged,” we say on day five of still not having replenished the peanut butter in the house. “She would pack up her kong and her bed, sling it over her shoulder and hit the road.” And we imagine her like the Littlest Hobo wandering the land, except instead of looking for wrongs needing righted, she would be on the lookout for the next vat of peanut butter.

“Bear would be mortified,” we say about the prospect of having to put her in a kennel with Murdoch and Molly if we were going out of town. “It wouldn’t happen,” we add. “She would just come with us.” Of course she would, she always did.

“I would not be chasing after Bear like this,” I say to the trees one grey evening with the light seeping away into the landscape, the woods becoming one dark mass, as I sink into the softening snow and stumble my way along a disused trail after Molly.

From a window I had watched Molly skip off through the trees while Morgan called her at the front door. I scrambled in to my boots and coat and called her name, trudging along the trail trying to follow her tracks. I found her at the house on the hill behind our woods. I saw her ears before I saw the rest of her, trotting down the driveway behind a snowbank.

Bear used to disappear up to the house on the hill too, but she always returned in good time, we didn’t worry about her wandering off. There would be stern looks and serious voices, “Bear, where have you been?” followed by hugs and kisses and belly rubs. We didn’t worry about her getting in trouble somewhere, disturbing the peace or chasing cars.

She has been gone three years and yet her nicknames still want to tumble from my mouth as I walk the woods and talk to the dogs. Petunia, I want to say, Peanut Bearalina, Baby Beary, Pumpernickel Peanut, Ruby Tuesday. I have to stop myself and the words pile up at the back of my throat.

“Bear was perfect,” we tell people the way everyone does, the way everyone imagines their dog to be. But in this case, it’s true.


  1. I was just browsing through your amazing pet photography portfolio on your site (www.heatherpeden.wix.com/photography) and I caught a few glimpses of Bear in the lab shots and had to return to your blog to read about her and to catch up on your 2016 entries, in the hectic madness that has been this year...

    You're such an amazing writer and photographer, Heather. I adore your tributes to Bear. I realize it may seem difficult or even impossible to try and do her memory and existence justice through mere words, (how can one adequately describe a human or animal character as we experience and know them?), but you, my friend, have captured so much, so eloquently, in these posts, truly. Thank you for sharing this with your readers.

    I wish I had done more in memoriam to my old dog Skip- had published something or created something of value to share some of him with the world, and reveal just how 'great' and irreplaceable he was to me.

    But as I sit here reading posts, and thinking of Bear and your special connection, I'm able also to reflect on my old best friend who I miss to this day and the aging "Daughter-with-fur", I have now, and I'm very grateful. We're so lucky to have known these souls, aren't we?

    Thanks again,


    1. Hi Tanis! Thanks so much for your amazing comment. I really appreciate your perspective on the stories about wonderful Bear since you knew her and you understand the kind of connection I had with her.

      It is really nice to know that you can take something from them also when reflecting on your own special relationship with awesome dogs (one of which is right now sleeping in my entryway being endlessly adorable).

      These kinds of comments make me feel like what I am doing with this blog is worth while. So, thanks again. :)