Gunner stood in the locker rooms, hands in his pockets, mouthing a cough drop. He was taking on a new charge, a Grizzly bear named Gustave. Others had tried but the animal had hardly moved since his arrival two weeks ago. All vet checks had come back normal.
He was brought in to help with Gustave. If he couldn’t then the animal might not survive.
A door slammed somewhere else in the facility breaking Gunner from his thoughts. He made his way from the locker room to the bear enclosures. Gustave was easy to spot. The bear didn’t move except for his breathing.
Gunner stepped inside and ignored the women trying to talk to him about Gustave. “Give me a minute.” He told her and stepped away. Gunner wanted a few minutes with the bear.
Gustave took a heavy breath. His large head lifted and his black eyes bore into Gunner’s sole. “Hi.” He said. Something, a glimmer of knowing, brightened Gustave’s eyes. “You’re a Grizzly and I’m a Kodiak. What are you doing?” Something woodsy with a hint of cottonwood tickled his nose. Gunner’s inner bear fought to come to the surface. “You are not allowed to sit here and die.” It’s not fair to make me watch my mate die. He sent mentally.
Gustave shook his head then stood. My mother passed away. In my grief I did some stupid things.
Gunner wanted to rub against Gustave and hunker down in a cuddle pile. I’m sorry.
Not your fault. Help me?
I will do everything in my power to get you out of here.
“Gunner?’ The woman prodded from across the room. I’ll be back.
Gunner walked away leaving a portion of his heart behind.