The three dogs lined up on the bedWhen Suzanne first named Bear, I thought her nicknames would be about berries. We called her Hucklebearry and Berry-berry and I sometimes tried out the other berries, too — Bluebearry, Boysenbearry, Raspbearry. (Auto-correct really hates those extra As.)

In fact, her nicknames are Bearable, Bearly Bearable, and Unbearable. Today’s Unbearable moment came when she figured out how to turn the water on. The spigot on the back patio is a lever, nicely up and down, and Bear loves water. I am astonished by how quickly she managed to flood the patio. I was putting together chicken soup ingredients inside and didn’t even hear the water running, but it couldn’t have been more than five minutes before the water on the patio was an inch deep.

When I came outside, squealing in dismay, she was so excited she jumped up on me. “Look, look how fun it is,” she seemed to be saying, as she splashed through the water.

Meanwhile, Sophie and Riley D both said, “We want to be inside now, please. It’s cold out here.”

To which I said, “No! I want no wet, muddy dogs in my tiny house. You all get to stay outside.” I think I’m going to need to find a place to stash more towels, because while I do have a couple extra towels for puppies, I do not have enough extra towels to survive cleaning up three dogs after they create a pond on the patio.

Why, you might ask, am I blaming Unbearable for this minor disaster rather than either of the other two dogs when I didn’t actually see the water get turned on? If you knew the dogs, you wouldn’t have to ask. There are three dogs, but only one possible culprit when it comes to the kind of thing that makes you say, “WTF???” Sometimes Sophie is a participant in the creation of chaos, but she’s not the instigator. Honestly, I’m pretty sure that Sophie is an old dog soul, who already understands People Right from People Wrong (even if she doesn’t always choose to go along), and Bear is a fresh new dog soul, mystified by why we think chewing on furniture is a bad idea and dumping the garbage unacceptable.

The other day Bear was outside and Suzanne was scolding Riley, telling him how completely reprehensible the dog behavior inside the house had been. I asked if she actually thought Riley had done anything and she replied, “He didn’t stop her!” Ha. She’s bigger than him now, and still so gawky and awkward — it’s all he can do to keep away from her rather overwhelming adoration.

Fortunately, Bear is also a fresh new dog soul in other ways: loving, affectionate, goofy, excellent at snuggling, eager to play, willing to learn. Someday she will be Beyond Bearable, and probably Bearing on Excellent. She’s not currently good, as in well-behaved, but she is a Very Good Dog.

Sophie is, too, of course. I feel like I post more pictures of Bear on Instagram and I’m not sure why that is, but I think it’s just because Bear is so noticeably changing and growing (and becoming immense.) Sophie is equally adorable, but the fact that she’s getting fluffier by the day doesn’t show up in pictures much. I never did post the updated DNA info, but she’s more Australian Shepherd than border collie. (She’s an Australian Shepherd, Australian cattle dog, border collie, rat terrier, German Shepherd mix, plus 15% “super mutt”, aka lots of other breeds, too.) Australian Shepherds have thick coats, feathering on their legs, and “lush manes” and while Sophie has the markings of a border collie, she definitely seems to be developing the coat of an Aussie. It’s very soft and silky.

And as 2021 draws to a close, I’m feeling very blessed to have both these puppies — and a cranky cat — keeping me company. Last year, I wrote that I wasn’t convinced 2021 would be any better than 2020. Ha. I was prescient, I guess, because it sure wasn’t. My focus word for the year was GRACE — Gratitude, Reading, Art, Cooking, and Exercise. Um, nope. Well, I guess did read a lot.

I wanted to have a solstice celebration to say good-bye to the darkness and welcome the light, but I woke up that morning with a sore throat, so we postponed the dinner plan part of the celebration. Instead, Suzanne and I made origami snakes representing what we wanted to let go of from the old year, and origami cranes representing our wishes for the new year, then burned them on the fire pit with some dried sage from the garden.

I wonder if a decade from now I will remember what I let go of? I hope I don’t, that the things I released are so thoroughly released that I never think of them anymore. But I do hope that in future solstice celebrations I remember to wish for prosperity. Suzanne had that as one of her cranes and when she burned it, I thought, “Duh, what an obviously sensible thing to wish for!” Let us all manifest prosperity in 2022. (And also some creativity, diligence, focus, openness, and good health. Plus some kayaking!)