The white bear was lying on our doorstep when LH got up this morning. He’s not a really a bear, of course, but a large white Lab who belongs to our neighbors down the road. He’d been here last night, too, the first time ever in the dark. Before that, we hadn’t seen him for several weeks, maybe more than a month.
He’s become a well-known wanderer in our rural neighborhood since the day in late August when the people on the corner of our road brought him house to house in their truck, trying to find his owner. At first I thought he was a great Pyrenees. He has the wide forehead characteristic of those giants. Upon closer examination, however, it was obvious he was a Lab.
After I’d talked to the good Samaritans for a while, I had a thought. LH had been at the neighbors’ a few weeks before and had commented to me on the particularly fine pair of yellow Labs who lived there. Very pale ones. I put two and two together, and I was correct. He was their dog.
A few days after that, he appeared at our yard fence one morning, a silent, alert visitor. (I’ve never heard him bark.) He has a little scar on his right cheek, so I was certain it was the same dog. I let him into the yard and he and Bronte had a lovely time, playing. After a time, I noticed he limped. Badly. Was it a paw? No. It was worse than that. If you have Labs, by now you have guessed: dysplasia. The curse of inbreeding in the species.
But he’s an easy-going fellow, quite happy here today—right now asleep at my feet. He seems lonesome, though, and I do know that he frequently visits the people who live at the corner of our road. They have a chocolate Lab and a dog door, an apparently inviting combination, as the white bear sometimes appears without notice in their kitchen.
The trick with having him here, is Bronte’s green eyes. She loves playing with him, but the more he follows me around, the more she notices. The principal trigger of her notice was my fault, however. I tried to situate them in the living room, so all three of us could be in one room together, and I could write this blog entry while they slept.
We have an ancient tweedy sofa, more than thirty years old, that has comforted three generations of Labradors. Now it is hers. She knows it and we know it. She will not lie on a dog bed. She has never even acknowledged that a dog bed is intended for dogs, namely her, to lie upon.
Earlier, I had brought out the spurned dog bed for Bear and placed it on the porch. He plopped right down. Great, I thought. Maybe she will learn by example. Look, here's a dog,lying on this plush piece of foam rubber. See? I think that was when she sat down in the grass and scratched her ear.
Now, I carried the dog bed into the living room and set it at the foot of the sofa, expecting him to flop again. I told her to hop to her accustomed place. He heard me, though, and beat her to it, settling right down in the center of the sofa. “There’s room for you, too,” I told Bronte. And she jumped up into the corner space, but she did not seem happy.
So there they were. After a little while I noticed that she was sending me a message. Her look said: Okay. Now what are you going to do about this? It was as clear as speech.
I got up. I summoned the Bear off the sofa and instructed him to lie on the dog bed,which he did. I told her to hop on the sofa, and she complied. Peace.
About two minutes later, I noticed he was back on the sofa, curled up on the far end. “Plenty of room for the two of you,” I told her.
She was not mollified.
So, while he's here--before his owners come for him--we will shower her with attention. It’s only for the day, right? Hale has taken her for her walk, while the Bear sleeps at my feet.
Oh, wait. He’s getting up. He’s walking slowly, limping, into the living room. He's jumping on the sofa, and curling up in the left corner. It really is so much more comfortable there.