Choo-Choo Bear

"The Girl Who Loved Me Best"

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My Choo-Choo Bear, the most beautiful little black bear you were!
I remember strolling through the mall in my single days,
just window-shopping (because goodness knows, I had little money!)
I had met this nice girl, and we were just enjoying looking at things
not too long before Christmas. A pet shop is always
a fun place to look, so why not? Well, I spied you, and
you smiled at me with that funny purple tongue hanging out.
I had to hold you. We went into this little room together,
and I'm sure it was love at first sight for both of us.
I'd had a black cat named Fred who'd died, and I really wanted
another pet. You were the prettiest bundle of black fur...
a fat little black bear! Well, this nice girl I
was dating could tell how much I wanted you,
and she bought you for me for Christmas!
Of course, I had to have you early...
I certainly wasn't going to leave you at the pet shop.
You came home with me that very night.

We went for long walks, snuggled, and slept together.
You & I bonded right away, and while you liked my family OK,
you were "my girl." For your whole life, if anyone would say
"Who loves you best?" I'd say... "Chooch-Bear!!!"
That little curly tail of yours would just wiggle so fast,
and you'd smile with that purple tongue hanging out!
We named you Choo-Choo Bear...
you sounded like a choo-choo train when you panted,
and you looked like a real black bear.
I showed you off everywhere, and took you to school
so you could learn good manners & strut your
stuff proudly. You were so stubborn!
But you didn't want to stay inside the house.
You wanted your freedom... Miss Independence!

I'll never forget how you loved to roam
the woods at our lake house.  After you had your
pups, & we kept your pretty red daughter
the two of you would hunt together.
Once you brought us a racoon!
  We'd heard you wrestling with it during the night,
and you brought the dead thing to the house and
proudly laid it on the top step to show me when I got up!
What a girl... you were bedraggled
and a pretty whipped puppy, but you had
conquered your prey, and were so proud!
You loved to ride in the boat at the lake - even
jumped into the water once! But you'd sit beside me so proudly
on the pier and watch the boats, or the sunset... whatever.
You were just proud to be my girl.  At the sound of my voice,
your little curly tail would just fly... we really loved each other.

I often joked about our definition of "fishing."
I said that you & I would do it together... we'd sit
on the pier, and as I drank my bourbon, I'd throw ice cubes
in the water. If one ever hit a fish & knocked it out,
you'd jump in & get it and bring it to me.
Well, I never ran out of ice cubes, and you never got wet.
But we surely did have fun "fishing" together!
(Of course, the ice cubes melted on the pier!)
We just sat there and soaked in the sun, or watched
the sunset, always together.

You were so happy when we moved into

our new home with a big yard,
when you were 7 years old. It had a big, shady,
woodsy back yard for you with a nice fence
where you could run & play. The townhouse had a
small yard, and you really couldn't run there.
But you were happy anyway!  I am so glad you could enjoy
your new home for a few short years.

But your genes were not good.
You had come from a puppy-mill.
I didn't know about those things at the time,
and I am still glad we gave you a good home.
But since you weren't bred well, you always had problems.
Your hair matted, and you became blind at an early age.
You began to hobble and it was hard for you to get around.
 You were determined, though.  Even though it
would take you a long time to get up the stairs to the deck,
you'd make it, and love lying in the sun & getting biscuits!
We had a little bed for you out there, and you were the queen
of the yard.  Your pretty daughter, Sinny, strutted her red fur
and played with you as long as you were able. But you
sometimes became confused & disoriented.
You'd get lost in the yard and be really frustrated.
You had lots of health problems and tried hard to stay the
"big dog" in the family but it was hard for you.
We knew that your life was losing quality, but we
couldn't give you up.
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We kept you with us too long,
hoping that you were still happy lying in the sun & not in pain.
But the day came when you couldn't make

it up to the sunny deck anymore,
and then just after your 13th birthday, a hard winter set in.
You had a comfortable bed in the basement,
and plenty of good food & water.
We'd lead you outside and around the yard,
and helped you as much as we could.
But you struggled and often couldn't even stand

up without our lifting you.
It seemed as though you started "talking to us."
You'd bark endlessly during the night, and we'd go down to
hold you & pet you, giving you medicine, and

trying to make you comfortable.
But we knew we were only trying to keep you
with us, and it wasn't fair to you.
It was so hard for me to take you to the doctor one
last time but I knew I had to do it.
You needed to be living in a good place in good health
again, where you could once again run & play
as I knew you when you were a puppy. 
I will be so happy to see you again

at the Rainbow Bridge, my girl. 
You were always my best girl, and I am so proud
that you could spend your life with us. I learned so much
from you, and you gave me all you had...
your love, devotion, and many years of happiness.
You'll always be...

"My Girl."

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Bob (Stretch) Cleeland
In Loving Memory of Choo-Choo Bear
"The Girl Who Loved Me Best"
October ‘85 - February ‘99

"If you could see me now... I am walking streets of gold.
If you could see me now... I am standing tall and whole.
If you could see me now... You'd know I'd seen His face.
If you could see me now... You'd know the pain's erased.
You wouldn't want me to ever leave this perfect place.
If you could only see me now."

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Waiting for us at Rainbow Bridge webring
site is owned by
Eunice Cleeland.

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