In loving memory . . .

IMG_1639 On June 10, 2015 Bear “Puppy Chow” Haley passed away peacefully, surrounded by people she loved. She was twelve-years-old in human years, but around ninety in dog years.

Bear was born on July 1, 2002 in Flora Vista, New Mexico to a Blue Heeler and a Beagle. Her parents were unable to take care of a litter of five puppies, so Bear and her siblings were put up for adoption when they were two months old.

Though her first three siblings quickly found homes, the days came and went, and Bear still waited. That’s when Jason and Laura Haley came into her life, welcoming her into the family she would be part of for the remainder of her nearly thirteen years on this earth.

Bear developed an early taste for fashion, with a particular affinity for Laura’s shoes. She also loved the written word, once attempting to devour a hardback copy of HARRY POTTER AND THE GOBLET OF FIRE in a single day.

Though she never graduated from obedience school (despite her parents’ regular threats to send her there), Bear knew every trick in the book. Except stay. And heel. Oh, and she wasn’t very good at drop it. And she only came when wanted to. Other than that, she quickly learned shake, roll over, play dead, and speak. She could also count to ten. She loved food, walks, food, playing fetch, food, her people and mostly food. She hated fireworks and swimming. And cats.

As she got older, Bear settled into a routine with her family. She loved to hike and camp, and her family always slept better knowing Bear was on guard. She enjoyed the company of other dogs, as long as they went home when she was done playing.

Bear eventually welcomed several siblings into her home: two human children named Vince and Shelby who she loved dearly. She was less welcoming of her canine sibling Kona, and her feline sibling, Sprocket. In fact, she probably would have eaten them given the opportunity.

For most of her life, Bear held down several careers, including, but not limited to guard dog, river dog, obnoxious dog panting and whining in the back seat because she hated car rides, cat and rabbit chaser, lizard de-tailer, and eater of all things, even broccoli, but especially New York strip steaks that were left on the floor by unexpecting grandparents.

During her last few years, after a leg injury received while bravely defending her backyard from the yappy dog on the other side of the privacy fence, she slowed down, taking up residence mostly as a doormat, and an obstacle to trip over in the kitchen. She remained an eater of all things until her final days.

After a brief illness, compounded with severe arthritis, Bear’s family made the painful decision to let her go. Her last few days of life were full of laughter, love and plenty of tears. In fitting style, Bear’s final meal consisted of ice cream and waffles.

Bear is survived by her human parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, and siblings, as well as Kona and Sprocket. She was preceded in death by dozens of squeaky toys, countless plastic bottles, several pairs of shoes, and a couch that she swore had a squeaker buried somewhere deep within its stuffing.

Bear will be greatly missed by all who knew her. In lieu of flowers, please send donations to your local animal shelter. Or better yet, go take a dog for a walk.

We love you Bear. And you will never be far from our thoughts.

When I grow up . . .

The other day while we were driving my six-year-old announced that he’d decided what he wanted to be when he grew up. My heart swelled in anticipation. What would it be? An soldier? A firefighter? A doctor? No. None of those. He wanted to be a . . . (pause for dramatic effect) dishwasher at a hotel.

Now, no disrespect towards dishwashers everywhere. It’s certainly a necessary job, and it’s one of the many duties listed on my resume as a stay-at-home mom. But it wasn’t exactly the type of shoot-for-the-stars goal I’d anticipated. Especially since I can’t even get him to help wash the dishes at home. So we talked for a while about some of the other career options that are available, and he finally changed his mind. Now he wants to be a scientist. Pretty broad, and I’m not sure the pay is much better, but at least it’s something to shoot for.

Afterwards I realized that, at almost thirty-years-old, I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up. The uncertainty is a little disconcerting, especially because I always had a plan when I was younger. For most of my childhood, I wanted to be a veterinarian. When I was in middle school I set my sights on Colorado State University because they had a good veterinary school. I did an independent study with a local vet, and I joined 4-H where I raised sheep and goats in addition to my family’s menagerie of dogs, cats and the occasional llama and horse. 

Then, sometime in middle school, like most childhood dreams do, things changed. After a particularly unsettling injury to one of the goats in our flock, I decided I didn’t have what it took. For a while, I was set on being a country music singer. (Good thing none of you have heard me sing. The shame would be unbearable.) Then it was a teacher. Then a musician. Or a Marine. I started college as a music major, but changed quickly thereafter to English. I wanted to be a writer. In all reality, making it in this world as a writer probably isn’t a whole lot easier than making it as a singer (short of the fact that I have at least a smidgeon of talent when it comes to writing. The same can’t be said for singing.) But I was passionate, and I started writing my second novel.

Six and a half years ago, my son was born. When my husband was offered a job in Moab, we decided we’d move, and I would stay at home with my son. So now, here I am. I am a wife and mother. And even though it’s hard for me to admit, I’m a writer dammit! This definitely isn’t where I thought I’d be when I was a kid, but I’m happy to be here. At least I’m not washing dishes in a hotel. And who knows. Maybe some day, I’ll find a real job. Or maybe I’ll find a way to make writing a real job. Only time will tell.

So what about you? What did you want to be when you grew up? Did you make it?