Operation Bear Back

Part of my New Year’s Resolutions this year is to have 12 new experiences that are cool enough that I would blog about them.

I didn’t take into consideration that just in the first month, several experiences would be so off-the-charts that I can’t actually blog about them, not only because some family members would disown me, or that some people would start treating me differently, but they could get me arrested if I created a public record of the event.

But luckily, there are other January experiences that I can blog about and not worry about isolation, ex-communication, or incarceration. Operation Bear Back certainly qualifies as one.

When I first announced to a few friends that “Operation Bear Back” was going to happen this year, they saw a very different spelling in their mind, and then really gave me some strange looks. And then once they understood what it actually meant, they suggested I consider a different code name. Pah!

Bear at Dan's place

A Brief History of Bear

Bear was given to me by a girlfriend who knew my love of big dogs. I grew up with Siberian Huskies as our family pets, but when I spent time with Bronson, the rottweiler owned by the (former, alleged) drug dealer who trained me own my high school paper route one summer, I fell in love with the breed.

Since I travelled far too much during my first two years of Trilogy (my first gig after uni), I couldn’t have a dog. Bear was an amazing gift. Always there when I arrived at home. Never caused drama. Always understood exactly what I was talking about.

Bear has been with me for 18 years. The girlfriend? Well, she didn’t turn out as loyal or dependable. Or clean, for that matter.

The Separation

When I first moved to Australia, I didn’t want to bring Bear over, fearing he would be damaged in the shipping process, plus I didn’t like the idea of him being in a crate for three months without any attention.

Luckily, one of my best friends, Dan, has two dogs, and offered to take care of Bear while I was in Australia. So he not only had a good home but the company of Dunkel and Holly.

But when I decided that my move to Australia was a permanent one, I knew he needed to join me in Oz.

And that, is when Operation Bear Back began.

I researched a number of freight options, and Dan had even agreed to pack Bear up and ship him to Sydney, but then Dan decided to move to SF! Bear was ticked that he didn’t get to ride shotgun to SF, since that’s how he’d traveled on my move to and from the Bay Area before. The timing worked out perfectly as Dan found a place to live in the Bay Area the same week I was there on business.

I was nervous pulling up to the house – Bear and I hadn’t seen each other in over a year when Dan brought Bear out to a pub in Austin the last time I visited.

The Reunion

Bear and Bryan reunited

Bear can hardly hold back the emotion.

Bear and Bryan together

The boys are back together. Look out ladies, and look out cats.

Bear in passenger seat

“Why do I NEVER get to drive? BJR, you may be my owner, but you’re not cool sometimes.”

How to travel with a cement dog between continents

There was still an ocean to cross, and I wasn’t checking one of my best friends as luggage, but I also wasn’t about to shell out $2K for a seat for him.  So he needed to masquerade as a carry-on. A 80 cm, 12 kg cement carry-on, no less.

Bear checking out backpacks

Bear wanted to travel in style, yet still be comfortable.

Bear approves backpack

“It’s my color. It’s comfy, and you can’t zip the bag over my head. We’ll take it.”

Bear in backpack 2

And we’re off.

Bear Comes Home

Amazingly enough, no one said a word as I went through the airport. Sure some stares, some giggles from flight attendants, and one request to take our picture.  Somehow we made it onto the plane, and the final test – the overhead bin – passed! He fit like a charm. At one point during some turbulence, he did roll onto a wooden case carrying a cellists bow, but luckily the bow was unharmed. I did get pulled aside by customs because a colleague on my flight was carrying an apple. The customs dog didn’t even pay attention to Bear. Bear was not amused.

Bear makes it through Security

Don’t stare like that. Those guys from TSA will get suspicious.

Bear at Restaurant in Airport

“If I’m going to eat, could you take me out of the @#$% backpack?!!”

Bear in Overhead Bin

“This. Is. Humiliating.”

Becoming Aussie

Bear is adjusting well, and enjoying life by the beach. His daily routine is mostly spent staring at the waves, watching other dogs pass by the window outside. It’s great to have him out here with me.

Bear Watching Aussie TV

So far, Bear does not think highly of the quality of Aussie TV.

Bear Looking at the Ocean at Night

But he loves the smell and sound of the ocean.

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