Dog-Owner relationship gains strength through life’s highs and lows
On Feb. 1, Rachel Morgan celebrated the birthday of her steadfast k9 companion, Charlie Bear. The female corgi/bear dog cross turned nine. A “Carcross special,” as Morgan affectionately calls her, because both parents hail from said town. Charlie is small in size, but her personality is larger than life. This month also marks Morgan’s 7th year in the Yukon. It was here that she met both Charlie and her late partner and fiancé, Ted Lambert.
“Charlie was Ted’s baby. Well, until I came along,” said Morgan with a laugh. “Then she fell in love with me.”
It was Morgan who later added “Bear” to Charlie’s name, in the hopes of making it sound a bit more feminine. Lambert adopted Charlie Bear from Humane Society Yukon a couple years before meeting Morgan.
“Ted always told the story that all the other puppies were bouncing around and excited and she was over in the corner, very meek and quiet. So he went over and said hi and she got all excited. That’s how he knew she was the one for him,” said Morgan.
Charlie Bear was a pretty chill girl, but Lambert took puppy training seriously and helped shape her into the most likeable sidekick around. To this day, she is well-behaved (she never barks!) and works her way into everyone’s heart. For example, Charlie Bear happily accompanied Morgan to every one of her Whitehorse jobs, including the ski hill, then the Yukon Sourdough Rendezvous office and now the Yukon Chamber of Commerce, where she greets people from underneath Morgan’s desk. None of these workplaces were dog-friendly when Morgan and her furry partner arrived. “I totally won them over with Charlie Bear and, for some of them, it stuck. Current staff can now bring their pets in!” said Morgan.
When I asked if Charlie Bear is a good guard dog, Morgan just chuckled.
“Not unless you’re scared of her little smile.” A dog who smiles? “Yeah, it’s so hard to explain, but she basically shows her teeth. She smiles so big that she scrunches her nose and then she can’t breathe, so she sneezes. She keeps doing the same thing; smiling, sneezing, smiling, sneezing. It’s so funny!”
Having grown up on a hobby farm in Ontario, Morgan drew from a large realm of possibilities when she thought to give Charlie Bear an animal companion. She decided on a pet bunny, which she named Bun Chatta, because, as she explained, “everybody names their creamy-coloured pets Baileys, so I wanted to go with something a bit different.” The two (pets) fell in love right away with Bun Chatta jumping excitedly over and around Charlie Bear. Having been taught well by Lambert not to bark, Charlie Bear tends to “chomp” when she is particularly excited. Really, Charlie’s only transgressions are stealing Morgan’s socks and underwear and stockpiling them in her dog bed, along with chips, which Charlie’s recently decided she doesn’t care for. Go figure!
With so few bad qualities and such an endearing personality, it’s no surprise that Morgan has friends lining up to take care of Charlie Bear when needed. Morgan calls these friends Charlie Bear’s “aunts and uncles.” I laughed when I heard that and teased Morgan that it sounded more like her child than her dog. “Yeah, she totally is. I have no interest in having children, she is my baby,” she agreed.
Clearly, Charlie Bear is family and was from the moment Morgan met her. Along with Lambert, the family of three shared some very special years together. *When Lambert took ill, and then died in 2018, Charlie Bear took on an even more meaningful role.
“I kinda just looked at her and said ‘it’s you and me now!’” said Morgan. “Charlie Bear is a big cuddler now, but she used to sleep in her kennel. When Ted and I were in Vancouver while he was in the hospital for four months, I missed her so much. When I returned home she greeted me at the airport and we both cried.
“That night, as I went to bed alone for the first time, she knew and she crawled under the blankets and snuggled up into my arms. Now that is how we sleep every night.”
Much more than any material item, Charlie Bear’s gentle nature and unwavering companionship were “a living part of Ted that carried on, that I could hold on to” said Morgan. Charlie Bear was right by her side through their grief and continues to be a most deserving and empathetic companion–smile and all!