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Man's touching committment to his best friend (PHOTOS)

Dogsarefamily_thumb By Dogs Are Family | December 10, 2013 | Comments (11)

Whether they went to the beach, crabbing or to the cabin, Tom Keeler and his Golden Retriever, Bear always enjoyed their time together. Tom shared some of his memories and photos of Bear and their life together. Tom says, "We always went everywhere together."

Tom Keeler says goodbye to his friend Bear

"One year ago today (12-9-13) that Bear passed away at the age of 10... The week before, I knew something was wrong. No one believed me, but I could sense it. He even fell in the backyard playing with me 3 days before. I wept at the sight of him struggling to not let me down. Then, that cold Sunday night, he started having trouble breathing. I wrapped him in his dog blanket and carried him to my truck, as he was too weak stand, and I didn't want him to hurt himself trying.

"Before I left my house, I ran back inside and took his favorite kerchief out of the laundry basket.. "just in case," I thought. At the Animal Hospital, they placed him in a doggy incubator. He was so upset, and the wonderful Vet team let me stay with him while the Emergency Vet prepped.

"They whisked him into a procedure room and I waited outside. The floor was soaked in tears between my feet while I thought if this was going to be his last night. Minutes felt like days. An hour or so later, the Vet came out. She told me that Bear had a large amount of fluid around his lungs, compressing them and making it hard for him to breathe. She said they had already drained out 1.5 liters and there was still more. She said she had a chance to look at the cells in the fluid under a microscope, and that the cells looked very cancerous, but didn't know specifically what kind of cancer. Though, she told me from her experience, that whatever cancer it was, it was real bad. She told me they could drain out the remainder of the fluid from around his lungs, which would help him breathe much easier for the time being, and then determine exactly what type of cancer it was, and to explore chemotherapy options. The other was to put him to sleep.

"I didn't hesitate at my decision. Bear had given me ten years of adventures, comfort, companionship, and unconditional love. Wherever I was, whatever I was doing, Bear was with me. I refused to even think about dragging out his suffering just to still have him with me. No matter how hard it was going to be. While the Vet was prepping the area, I clipped a lock of his fur to keep, and held his paw until he slipped away. I held him in my arms for several minutes after."

Tom Keeler says goodbye to his friend Bear

"I sat there while the Vet was getting the drugs/equip for the euthanasia and stroked his head, and speaking to him about all the places we went together in ten years. He was always the best listener"

"I always promised him I'd stick with him until the bitter end.. I brought his favorite kerchief.. RIP Bear, my companion canine."

"Here's Bear and me when he was around 2. In the winter he would follow me down to the beach and sit and watch me surf. I loved this so much. I like to think he did too."

Bear liked to watch Tom surf

"He was so gentle around everyone, and had a special gift with disabled children."

Bear was gentle around everyone

"This is Bear (Roxanne in the background) when he around 3 years old. They were building a new development near my home and there were acres upon acres of big dirt mountains, mysterious valleys (unfinished basements, and long, flat expanses that were conducive for launching tennis balls with a bat for extra long fetches. He was trained to be an off leash dog, and this is primarily where I trained him and gained confidence with each other on our communication."

bear inspecting the camera

"I fell asleep one day after a long night at work, and I guess Bear decided this was a prime snuggling opportunity. However, what both of us didn't know is from this angle, it looked like there was a half man half dog creature on the floor."

bear sleeps on tom

"My friends, Bear, and me would all go crabbing in the summers in the bay at this place called Seaview docks. We'd order pizza from Primo's pizza down the street and have them deliver it down the long dirt road to the docks. Bear especially liked this. A nice slice of cheese pizza was his lunch/reward for keeping all the seagulls away from our bait."

defender of bait

"This was Moose's first time around water, and Bear showed him it wasn't scary, by swimming out a distance then sending back a playful woof to Moose. I have Bear to thank for Moose's love of water. By the way, I should explain Bear's unique tail. When I went to the breeder, there was only two males left. One had a funny rash on his nose, and the other had a tail that had been broken when he was born. Giving it a shape kinda like a saxophone. The breeder said that no one wanted either of them, and that she was sorry she didn't have any other puppies left. I can't believe people can be so picky and cold. She insisted that if I really was set on the one with the broken tail, that she'd give him to me for nothing. I'm so glad I did. And he learned how to wag that thing just fine! (even though he would throw in a little butt-wiggle to enhance its' performance from time to time.) He also learned an alternative method to turn in the water, since he really didn't have a rudder like all the others."

Moose learns how to swim from Bear

"This is Bear on May 11, 2013"

bear loved his water toy

"What's sad about a lot of these pictures at our cabin is they were taken a mere 6-7 months before he died."

bear loved his water toy

"WABABABABABABAA. Bear drying off at my cabin on the river after taking an afternoon summer swim."

bear drying off

"I loved those spots on his tongue :p"

bear has spots on his tongue


Photos reprinted with permission of Tom Keeler.

Copyright 2015 DogHeirs. All Rights Reserved.

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Comments on this Article

They look so beautiful & peaceful even while dying!
THANK YOU for not letting him suffer like most "dog lovers" would have, just to keep him by your side a little longer.
Peace to you Tom and thank you for sharing your beautiful story. I experienced the loss of my dog of sixteen years, Phoebe, this past Spring. I know your sorrow and also know the strength it took to let your beloved Bear go. You LOVED him well...
Thank you for sharing your story. Made me sad as i can't imagine what it's like to lose your best friend. My first dog approaching 11 and I don't know what it's going to be like when that day comes.
This story brings back a lot of memories for me. My golden retriever named Brandywine Girl had stomach cancer. I to carried her to the car. I also cut off a lock of her hair. I also stayed with her to the very end. It's always hard when that dreaded day comes when you have to say goodbye. She gave me such a gift of beautiful memories that I will cherish for the rest of my life. I would do it all over again if I had the chance. Bear was such a beautiful looking dog, and by the looks of all these wonderful photos and the video he has blessed your life with a lot of beautiful memories. Peace
You made me cry and smile at the same time.. Bear is such a lucky dog to have you.. God bless.. I am sure he looks at you from heaven and smiles! goof goof.. :)
He was an awesome boy!! And he must have been gone so peacefully because all he wanted was his Father and Mother to be near..!! RIP Bear.. God Bless..!!
You made me cry. He was very happy dog because you gave him a lots of love. R.i.p. Bear <3
You have been blessed as has Bear. To have each other and to share so much must be remarkable. You could do no more than give the ultimate test of love at the end. Thank you and RIP Bear. They are so special
Bear looked like an AWESOME dog. He made you happy because you were ! And so was HE !! Dogs don't ask for much....thanks for sharing your story ,we should all be that fortunate. Gob bless you both. :)
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