“A Prayer for Bear,” Tambuli, Feb. 1992, 12
The year I turned eleven, I went on a three-day camping trip with my friend Don, my older brother, and my dad. And Bear. Bear is our black and white Border collie. He loves to run and chase outdoors.
We had a great time on that trip with Bear. We camped on a big cattle ranch among a lot of sagebrush and lava rock, and near a good fishing creek.
My brother, Nick, and I took Bear down to the creek every day. Bear loves to play in the water. He must think he’s fishing, but he sure doesn’t fish like the rest of us. He puts his left paw in the water and splashes all over the place. He also snaps at the water with his mouth. He makes such a commotion in the water that I’m sure that all the fish are soon at least ten miles downstream.
The last morning we were there, my brother and I left Bear at camp so we could do some real fishing at the creek. Don and Dad stayed in camp to clean up after breakfast.
After a little while Don came down to the creek. “Hey, Mike,” he said. “Your dog is dead.”
“He is not!”
“Well, he’s nearly dead. A rattlesnake bit him.”
My brother and I ran for camp as fast as we could. Don ran after us.
Sure enough, by the time we got to camp, Bear was lying real still by Dad’s tent. Dad had killed the rattlesnake, but there didn’t seem to be much he could do for Bear.
Bear had been bitten twice on the nose. It was red and swollen, and he was barely breathing.
I started to cry. I didn’t know what to do. My brother started to cry, too, but he knew what to do. “Dad, can we say a prayer for Bear?”
My Dad nodded. “Bear is a very sick dog,” he said. “You can say a prayer for Bear, but are you willing to accept it if he doesn’t live?”
“Yes,” my brother said. I could only nod.
All four of us gathered in a semicircle around Bear. Dad looked over at my big brother. “Nick,” he said. “I would like you to say the prayer because you have so much faith.”
I don’t remember what my brother said in his prayer, but I remember how I felt standing there with my head bowed.
When the prayer was over, Bear got up. He walked around a little, and then he ran. He seemed happy to be alive.
I was happy! I was so happy that I kept hugging Bear over and over. My big brother just stood there and cried some more. I didn’t understand then why he was crying when we were all so happy. I did understand one thing though—I knew that my brother had a lot of faith in prayer. And so did I.