Papa Bear, Puppy’s Dad, has been on my mind a lot lately. Puppy is the watchdog on the property where I rent a house (one of three). I began taking care of her two years ago when the caretaker left. You can read all about that here.
Papa Bear lives at the Beach House across the street from us. His owner, my previous landlord, died two years ago. He has a caretaker who feeds and waters him but he doesn’t get much attention.
It’s a completely different life for dogs here in Belize. They are kept for Security and protection. They are typically not considered pets. They are chained 24/7, not getting proper exercise and many times not being fed and watered regularly (especially fresh water in the heat!). They also aren’t bathed. My landlord had 5 dogs and he didn’t have names for any of them!
Puppy’s name came about completely by accident. Papa Bear got his name because when I moved in there was a litter of pups and he was the father. I called the Mother Mama Bear (go figure!) so it made sense to call him Papa Bear. Besides, he looks like a Papa Bear to me – a sweet, wise face. The vet deemed him about 7 years old when we went last month.
Papa Bear was the landlord’s dog. When the landlord, who lived across the street in the beach house, would come over to do things on this property, he would often have Papa Bear with him. Papa Bear would stay right by his side. The landlord would rotate the other dogs between his Caye (island) and other properties, but not Papa Bear. He was always at the Beach House.
When I first moved to this house, I would venture across the Street to what would be my own private beach. Papa Bear would be lounging on the cool concrete of the porch, not chained, and hardly look up when I walked by. As he is a big rottweiler mix, I kept my distance at first then began talking to him when I walked by and then finally ventured up to meet him and pet him.
Papa Bear and his son, Junior (though I called him Wolf and other neighbors called him Buddy), both lived at the Beach House. When the landlord died, I learned that he was living in his wife’s house and her adult kids who lived in the U.S. were now the owners due to her passing away. While the kids visited Belize here and there, they fluctuated between wanting to keep the dogs for security or find them homes. Junior has since found a home with a neighbor.
For the past three years that I’ve lived here, I have taken the dogs for walks (or tried rather since they didn’t know how to be on a leash initially! HA), swimming and gone over to the beach house with Puppy just to hang out and give them some love and attention. Sometimes I’d let them all off their chains so they could properly run and frolick. What a sight to see them all charge down the shoreline together, or swim.
In April it was time for their shots. I emailed the owners to tell them. They ignored me because they didn’t want to pay for anything ($45 USD for the office visit and rabies shots). They wrote back after a reminder email the next month. They suggested finding a home for the dogs. I wrote back and proposed that I pay for food and vet and Papa Bear can stay at the Beach House. They agreed.
I assumed that I would go over and visit every day and that wasn’t happening. I began to realize that Papa Bear deserves a real home with people who pet him and love on him. Last month, at 7 years old, he was neutered (ouch, poor guy!) so he is now a better candidate for adoption.
I didn’t know if I was really ready or willing to find him a new home, but the Ad went out. Gulp. Seeing it on Facebook made it real. I am not able to have two dogs on this property, at my house.
Papa Bear stayed at my house during his recovery, and even longer because I’m a rebel like that! He and Puppy love to be together. Last year he stayed with us for 3 months while he recovered from what I figured was a machete cut on his hip area. I don’t think he completely understands about being INSIDE the house. He much prefers being under the house laying in the cool dirt. Puppy would rather be right by my side underneath or next to my work table.
It’s interesting to watch the development of accepting affection. Papa Bear will now whine a bit to talk to me and be noticed. While still a little shy to come right up and stick his nose at me to get some pets, he gives me a look and I know he is reaching out for attention and affection. It is both precious and heartbreaking to experience. I wonder how many of us feel the same way – that feeling of not knowing how to ask for what we want and need.
I’ve had Papa bear here the last few nights due to some stormy, rainy weather. I feel he doesn’t have enough protection at the Beach House, at least not where he is currently chained. I will work with the Caretaker on that (the back of the house, away from the beach, offers more protection).
Both dogs woke me up about 11 pm last night and I decided to let them out to run around (a first since before Papa Bear’s surgery). I never did fall back asleep all the way. Right as I was finally dozing off, at 3 am, there was a ruckus outside – barking! I hollered out the window (sorry neighbors!) for them to come home and they did, surprisingly. Obedience training isn’t necessarily something they are taught. Puppy came right up to the door. Papa Bear laid in the yard and I had to go after him. Of course, they have been sacked out ever since coming in from their frolicking. Guess who has still been wide awake?!!
I don’t know if I can let Papa Bear go. He is a big part of my life. He is Puppy’s Dad. They are good company for each other. I’ve thought of finding a place where I can have two medium/big dogs (50-60 lbs each). I don’t know if I want the responsibility of two dogs. I wonder if I can commit to daily visits to the Beach House to see Papa Bear and take him on walks or bring him to my house more often (he still has to be chained here unless he is in the house). It’s quite a quandary for me right now.
Maybe I don’t need to decide right now. Maybe he’s okay for now, the way things are. Maybe he doesn’t know any better and this is enough for him.