PENINSULA - As long as we remember those we have loved and lost, they are never really gone.
William G. Mundy knows the pain of loss, but he chooses to honor the memory of his constant companion of over 17 years, a small Lhasa Apso dog named Bear, in an exceptional way.
Each year in his Ocean Park computer shop, CCME Avenger Computer Systems, he assembles one very special computer. Then, he donates that computer to the Oceanside Animal Hospital to be raffled off for $10 a ticket. The proceeds from the raffle go into a fund named in honor of Bear, money that helps subsidize the cost of veterinary care for low income families and seniors. This year the drawing will be held on Dec. 4, just in time for Christmas.
"It really does so much," said Mundy. "There's a huge need in this county."
By helping to keep other peoples' beloved companion pets alive, he is keeping the spirit of Bear alive.
"Bear was a remarkable little friend," he said.
Mundy never planned on having a dog.
"I couldn't stand dogs," he said with a shrug. "Nothing personal."
But in 1984, his ex-wife knew somebody who knew somebody who had a litter of puppies, and so she went and picked one out.
It was not love at first sight between Bear and Mundy. In fact, at first he found Bear annoying and troublesome. But then Mundy got sick.
"He jumped up on the bed and for over a week he never left me," said Mundy. A bond was formed that lasted a lifetime.
According to the American Kennel Club, Lhasa Apsos are known for their intelligence, hardy nature and courage. They originated in Tibet, where they were used as palace watchdogs. In Tibet they are called "bark lion sentinel dog."
Although Bear's nickname at home was "wimpy," he still lived up to the tough reputation of the breed. Mundy remembers the time when they were living in Portland, and Bear took exception to a pitbull in the next yard. Bear jumped the four-foot fence and attacked the pitbull. The pitbull didn't have a chance.
"He got in underneath the other dog and took down the pitbull," said Mundy. The other dog ran away.
But, try and give Bear a bath, and it was another story all together.
"Like he was going to melt," said Mundy, smiling gently.
Bear and Mundy first met Dr. Catherine Lindblad and Dr. Ed Ketel of Oceanside Animal Hospital in 1994. Bear developed a skin condition living on the Peninsula. The veterinarians treated that condition, and the other ailments an aging dog develops. They grew to love him too. They knew he was special.
So when Bear passed away on Sept. 7, 2001, they all knew something had to be done. That year they established the Bear Fund, which the veterinarians administer at their discretion, and raffled off the first computer.
Now in its fourth year, the fund has raised thousands of dollars to help people who feel as strongly about their pets as Mundy feels about Bear. By some twist of fate, it is often someone who desperately needs a computer who wins, said Mundy.
"It will be interesting to see who gets it this year," he said. The thought of providing someone with a computer while raising money for those who love and care about their pets helps ease the pain of loosing Bear for Mundy, but nothing can replace Bear in his heart.
"I miss him so much," he said.
For more information about the Bear Fund, or to purchase raffle tickets, call the Oceanside Animal Clinic at 642-2232.