Should I even write this post?

I don’t want this blog to be a place where people come and feel sad, but let’s take a minute to feel sad, and I promise next week we’ll talk hard science fiction.

On Saturday, after a months-long struggle with a degenerative neurological condition, we were forced to say good-bye to our little pug, Bear, the best dog ever.

I was against getting a dog after the untimely death by accident of our last dog. I didn’t want to go through all that again, but then I was basically talked into it by my wife and kids, and when we drove down to Portland to pick up our new little pug puppy from the breeder, it was love at first sight.

Bear when he first came home with us.

Bear when he first came home with us.

Then came my time to say good-bye to the corporate office lifestyle in the summer of 2010 and embark into the rocky waters of self-employment.

Writers out there, let’s be honest. If all goes right, you’re looking to someday be able to quit your day job and write—or at least, as in my case, write and edit—full time. I have managed to get to that point, after years of struggle, and though I used to sometimes complain about the time he took from my day, now that I’m really all alone all day while my wife is at work and my kids are in school, I miss him.

Bear was the associate in Athans & Associates and though his contribution to the firm mostly consistent of either snoring or barking in the background of online client meetings, recordings, and interviews, now that I’m most of the way through the second work day without him, I realize just how much the two of us interacted over the course of an average day.



Though no pet can necessarily replace the human camaraderie, the teamwork that can make a huge task seem less daunting, and all those other things you give up when you decide to go it on your own, a dog can act as a sort of psychotherapist. I would bounce ideas off Bear. He would tilt his head at me in more or les the same way every time, but in the process, I was talking through things. And anyway, he was here—usually sleeping under my feet. There was another life moving through this space, and occasionally having to let him out in the backyard for a bathroom break kept me from getting hunched over and desk chair-bound.

I’ve told everybody that I want to wait until later in the spring to get a new dog, so the kids will be on summer vacation, at least, and I’ll have a little help in that work-intensive initial puppy stage, but I might be talked into accelerating that time table.

It’s just too quiet around here.


—Philip Athans

About Philip Athans

Philip Athans is the New York Times best-selling author of Annihilation and a dozen other books including The Guide to Writing Fantasy and Science Fiction, and Writing Monsters. His blog, Fantasy Author’s Handbook, ( is updated every Tuesday, and you can follow him on Twitter @PhilAthans.
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7 Responses to BEAR

  1. mjtedin says:

    I’m sorry to hear about your dog. We lost our pug last year as well. It wasn’t easy and we think of him a lot still.

  2. Mel Odom says:

    Yep, lost our Labrador of 15 years last year, and a cat of 19 years. It’s hard.

  3. Kim Baker says:

    Nicely stated and I think Rich would agree! As annoyed as he gets with the constant “can we play ball now, can we?” And the in and out and in and out, this house would be way too quiet for all of us. Tripping over the bodies laying on the kitchen floor and calling a dog when you need a vacuum–we would definitely miss all of it, including the annoyances. So sorry for the loss you have all suffered. I do hope one day you do get another “associate.”

  4. Very sorry to hear about Bear. We had to say good-bye to one of ours a few months ago (liver cancer). I also work at home. I still have ‘my boy’ with me, but I know it’s going to be too quiet around here when he also goes.

  5. It hurts. We lost our lab in October. He was my shadow on the days I worked from home. I’m still looking for him but want to wait until we fence our yard before getting our next fur baby.

  6. JakeAStrife says:

    Terribly sorry to hear about your pug. I’ve always wanted to get one, but the fear of losing a beloved pet/friend/little family member has deterred me for so long. Not to mention costs of medical bills for said pets. I wish you the best of luck with your next dog, whenever you feel ready to get one.

  7. Philip Athans says:

    Thank you everybody for your kind words and thoughts. Still not 100% used to him not being here, but we’ll survive.

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