This past Sunday a VERY special dog arrived to celebrate the holidays with us.
Momma Bear is from Iraq. Her story breaks my heart every time I look into her beautiful eyes or feel her lean against me with her trusting heart.
I’m sure I won’t get all the details right, but let me tell you just a piece of Momma Bear’s story.
Last winter a man and his wife living in Iraq, learned of three dogs living on the campus of a University. The dogs were in danger of being exterminated (per campus policy). This amazing couple has rescued 17 dogs through their own efforts and money. Hearing that one of the dogs was injured and in danger, the man went to the campus to help. Momma Bear was there, along with the injured dog.
When the man attempted to aid the injured dog, he was surrounded by a pack of male dogs. Momma Bear put herself between the man and the pack and defended him. He was impressed by her bravery, and experienced it again another time when he returned to the campus to help a dog who had given birth to puppies. Once again, Momma Bear accompanied him and protected him from other dogs.
When time ran out, Bear and the two others were rescued from the campus and put in boarding kennels for three months while homes were sought. When no homes were found for Bear and Sultan, Nowzad helped to bring them to the US where OPH could find them homes.
Nowzad is a nonprofit organization originally started with a mission to reunite servicemen/women with dogs they adopted while serving in Afghanistan. Nowzad now runs the only animal shelter in Afghanistan, just outside Kabul.
Momma Bear was given the name Bear because of her clipped ears which make her look like a polar bear, but OPH added Momma to that name and it seems more than appropriate for her as she protected the rescue worker and two dogs in need as if they were her own.
Reading her story and seeing the pictures of her in that barren land, it’s hard to reconcile it with the sweet dog lying in my kitchen. (She won’t use the Frank bed, but lies on the bare floor next to it.)
She’s still a young dog, but her soul has seen so much. Her back is swayed and her ears and tail were clipped by kids in a local village, so you know her life has not been easy.
Still, she offers her loyalty and trust to the people she encounters. I’ve only known her a day, but she comes easily when I call. She seems to have won the heart of plenty of OPHers as she’s journeyed through the foster system regaining her health and confidence. So many people are pulling for her. I feel privileged to have her as our guest.
Watching her lounging next to my chair as I write, I wish she could talk. This dog has seen so very much. I’ve never even been across the Atlantic. What goes through her mind? Is she only grateful that she’s safe or is there more here at work in her? She is regal and gracious and has a way about her that seems so very wise.
Foo Foo is in love with her, following her around the kitchen. I’m sure she will pine for Momma Bear as much as me when she arrives in her new home tomorrow, even though she’s only had two days with Momma Bear but two weeks with me. Momma Bear tolerates Foo Foo’s affection, allowing her to climb all over her, hang from her collar, and chew on her legs.
When my Gracie growls at Momma Bear, she only looks at her with those patient, knowing eyes, waiting for Gracie to let go of her threat. Gracie backs away, somehow she knows. She better not mess with Momma Bear.
Ian is smitten. She’s an easy dog to love. Her big heart and gentle nature can’t be missed. Nick says, “Tell them there’s no rush in finding her a home.”
Momma Bear is a large dog. She takes up significant real estate, but never seems to be in the way. That’s probably because she’s always watching us, paying attention, staying out from under my feet even as she follows me everywhere like my large protective shadow.
What a gracious guest she is, and just in time for Thanksgiving!
(I know I promised pictures of Foo Foo and her college visitors from the weekend, but she was recovering from her spay operation and had to spend most of her weekend in the puppy pen so she wouldn’t reopen her incision. They did get some time with her on Sunday, so here’s a few pictures as promised.)