Posted by Tony & Cheri on September 22, 2008
Thanks to everyone for your nice thoughts about the loss of our dear friend Huggybear. It’s been a tough year for us with Belle, Blue and now Huggybear all passing.
Pets of course can get under your skin. They give comfort, amusement and company. And sometimes they are more. Sometimes they are special enough to bond deeply with us, to feel our love for them and on a very basic level, to return that love. They become our friends and part of our family. That is what happened with our English Bulldog Huggybear, and before we move on with our life we wanted to take time to remember how special he was.
We got Huggybear because Tony wanted a dog. But Huggy had other thoughts. On Super Bowl Sunday (12 years ago this coming January) we drove north of San Francisco to meet a breeder who had a litter of English bulldog pups for sale. The litter had a number of great looking pups, but as Tony looked through them, the runt of the litter ran over to Cheri and begged to be picked up. “He’s my favorite,” the breeder said. “He just needs a lot of love.”
And so at Cheri’s urging, we settled on the tiniest pup of the group. We drove back to San Francisco with the newly named Huggybear asleep in Cheri’s lap. Some sort of bonding must have taken place because by the time we arrived home any chance that this would be “Tony’s dog” was gone forever. Huggy had fallen completely and permanently in love with Cheri.
As a tiny pup, he was a joy to watch. All puppies are cute of course, but bulldog puppies are the cutest. Huggy would stumble along on his stubby little legs going full blast as he ran about. Puppy fashion he would play until exhausted. He would suddenly pull up short and stand still as a statue. He would blink once or twice and then collapse wherever he was in a deep sleep! The first time this happened it scared us out of our wits…but we soon realized this was just our little pup’s way.
As he grew Huggy’s companions were our four adult cats. He would follow them, play with them and even crawl up onto the back of the sofa to sleep there with them. Once, he even joined in the cats’ play of leaping from the couch at a stray fly. However, whereas the cats would land neatly on their feet, Huggy would crash to the ground in a heap, always looking around as if to ask “What happened?!” It was a sad day for him when he finally got too big to balance on the back of the sofa with his feline friends.
But as much as he enjoyed the company of the cats and loved the attention Tony gave him, it was Cheri who had his heart. From his earliest days he would follow her from room to room, indoors and out, up and down stairs. Wherever she was, that’s where he wanted to be. He even slept on our bed between her feet. He never stopped being her dog. And while he loved Tony, he was also a little jealous. Whenever we kissed, Huggy would bark as if to say “Stop that!”
By the time we moved to Mexico, Huggy was slowing down. Bulldogs have a short lifespan (twelve is an old age for this breed), and Huggy was beginning to show the signs of age. However he brightened up the day we brought our kitten Marley Buddha home. From the beginning, Huggy loved that little creature. The kitten would climb all over Huggy’s back and head, playing, jumping and scratching while our dog simply sat patiently. Then they would curl up together and go to sleep. If one of the other cats (or eventually our other dog Gypsy) would bother the now adult Marley Buddha, Huggy would haul his aged body off the couch and wander over. He would never growl or bite but would simply stand between the offender and his little friend.
In his final days Huggybear had grown weary with age. He was deaf and almost blind. The arthritis in his back and hips made it impossible to get up on the couch or the bed anymore. At night he could barely make it up the stairs so that he could be near Cheri. It was his time. It appears he passed from a heart attack in his sleep. His loss is heartbreaking to us but we are very happy that he died without a long period of illness or suffering.
We still have many pets we care for and will undoubtedly have more in the future. But right now we are taking a moment to treasure the memory of a creature with a good heart who gave us all his love. We’ll remember him forever.