To live in this world you must be able to do three things: to love what is mortal; to hold it against your bones knowing your own life depends on it; and when the time comes to let it go, let it go. -Mary Oliver
To the world’s best bear, Trotsky Bear (birth date unknown – April 13, 2021), otherwise affectionately known as Trotz, TBear, TDog, Doggie Dog, Hot Dog, Hot to Trot, Hotsky Trotsky, Old Bones Jones, Tater Trotz, Puppy Face, Fuzzy Face, Fuzzy Butt, Mr. Poopy Pants, Poop Loop, Sunshine, Little Cowboy, Little Fish, Little Buddy, Little Best Friend, Kid, Smalls, Banana, Banana Brain, Pumpkin, Pumpkin Pie, Grumplepus, Grumpus, Butt Nugget, Nugs, Trotskaliah, Beebop, Boperson, Bopsky, Little Click-Clack, Floofarilla, Bubbie, Chicken Legs and about three dozen other nicknames, my very best friend for 11 years, 3 months, and 14 days, for all the following reasons:
so many hikes, snowshoeing, smiling with your little pink tongue peeking out, late night walks when no one else in the world existed, dragging your food dish from room to room leaving a trail of kibble in your wake, wrestling when you were just a young ‘un, wearing bandannas and vests, that time you ran off into the woods chasing deer at the end of a 10 hour hike, how the fur around your ears crimped in the humidity, reading my moods and trying to make me happy when I was sad or stressed, break dancing on your back in the grass, your never ending quest for Trotsky treats, looking like a drowned rat during your baths, peeking your little nose through the back door at the chicken house, tolerating me brushing you, being so picky about food that I often had to feed you with a fork, being domik trained, being domik untrained and rushing to the window when my car pulled into the driveway, putting up with moving eight times, tolerating cats for four years and coming out with only one cornea scratch, your fluffy white butt, insisting on going into the tent way before I was ready to sleep whenever we went camping, your proud pose on mountain tops, sniffing all the things, the way the tips of yours ears bounced when you walked, your crooked Trotsky trot, taking treats from my fingers so gently, the times you stuck your nose in my armpit and stayed like that for a few minutes, leaning into me, not waking me up early on the weekends, taking over the entire bed with a body half the size of mine, standing in between me and trouble, hiding in the shower while I was cooking, the way your butt fur was a permanently matted mess no matter how I tried to fix it, getting hit by a car in Denver and being loopy on pain meds for a week after, the way your mad scientist hair flopped over your ears, the way you moved your mouth up and down sometimes obviously trying to say something, being my shadow, the way you’d run into the house after one minute alone outside in a panic to make sure I hadn’t left you, putting up with with times I just didn’t want to walk you because the weather was so miserable or because I was super lazy, when you put your legs around me and clung to me like a child when I took you to doggie day care when you were so young, the rabbits you brought me when we lived by that open field in Lowry, making everybody love you even though you just wanted to be left alone, your communicative growls and nips, what a goofus you looked like after you had three teeth pulled, insisting on a hug and a kiss first every time I wanted you to go up the stairs at the condo, your utter uselessness as a watchdog, being your own dog and not following the crowd at the off-leash park, the panic in your eyes when you lost sight of me at the park and utter happiness when you found me again, holding your paw up for me to fix when something was stuck in it, closing your eyes and sticking your face out the car window in a state of pure bliss, all the Trotsky rolls in grass and subsequent Trotsky butt shakes, the way nature debris clung to you, always turning around to make sure you could still see me on our hikes, the heartbreaking telltale signs that you had been abused before you came into my life, the way you were so wary of me the first six months, your jealousy and territoriality when other dogs were around, the commands you sort of knew, patrolling our campsites briefly to ward off danger but then diving into the tent the second I opened the zipper for bed and refusing to move, your sewer breath, your exasperated snorts when you lost your patience with me, the silly songs you inspired, the way you hated having your picture taken, those three or four times a year when you went into full on cuddle mode for an hour or more, keeping secret all the weird things I did when it was just the two of us, snow balling up under your feet on every winter hike, keeping me grounded the times I wanted to run away to another country, your ridiculous sighs as if you didn’t have the best life ever, sitting on my head if I was in bed when a fire alarm went off until you went deaf, the silly faces you made like getting your upper lip stuck in your lower teeth, being a little investigator, hating to swim just like me, always making sure people knew you were the boss of you, sleeping so hard when you got old that I could clomp around the house in high heels for fifteen minutes before you’d wake up, lying in patches of sun like a cat, clenching your lips so tightly together when I tried to brush your teeth, forgiving me immediately for the times I lost my patience with you, learning to find me by the flashlight when you couldn’t hear me anymore, the three half-hearted steps you took toward squirrels when you got old, the way you turned into a puppy in snow even when you were an old man, when you started getting weak and let me pick you up for the first time ever which simultaneously broke my heart and made me love you more, learning to use the doggy stairs when your muscles atrophied from old age so we could still go on car rides and snuggle in bed, the times we would lie down together and simply stare into each other’s eyes for ten minutes, always standing very much in my way when I was cooking so I had to step over you and constantly worry about dropping a knife on you, being so strong that the vets couldn’t believe you were still alive and happy and bopping around town with a tumor and an enlarged heart and fluid in your lungs, traveling around the country with me with your nose out the window and your eyes mostly closed while you inhaled nature, the way your back legs flopped around and turned you into a total klutz when you were really old, deciding you liked butternut squash in your old age, your raspy old man barks that showed how much spirit you still had, the way you stared at me wanting me to fix your aches and pains but settling for hugs instead, doing your damnedest to stay independent even though you were always my baby and I would have picked you up and carried you around forever if you had let me, for giving me just a little more time with you even though one hundred years wouldn’t be long enough,
and for being a really good boy.
The First Day