>Soon after we moved to North Carolina, our next door neighbors moved in with two large labs: Bear and Ruby. We have always had cats in our home because they just fit our lifestyle, and as a result our kids aren’t real comfortable around dogs.

Bear’s head is above my waist, so you can imagine my three-year-old girls’ reactions to him! They were quite simply terrified.

But over the years we’ve all come to know that Bear is a sweet, gentle creature, who absolutely loves children (he lives in a home with four young girls). The “love” that he tolerates is often tough (or at least rough) love, and I’ve never heard him growl even once.

He has a malignant tumor in his shoulder that has returned after surgery, so we don’t know how much longer this gentle giant will be a part of our lives. And even though he is not a member of our family, he has earned a place in our hearts.