“Please Look After This Bear”

The Story of How Paddington and Corduroy Entered Our Home and Opened Our Hearts, told through vital lessons that bears, besides Pooh, can teach

You only need one or two people to believe in you…at least initially.

It is nearly impossible to believe that Mike first passed a cocker spaniel’s kennel at the Islip Town Shelter and thought the space was vacant. The resident had no interest in human contact; he was sick, and lonely, and afraid. Eyes crusted shut, skin severely infected, the poor creature emanated a pungent odor, had lost all of the hair on his chest, and doubtless felt as unlovable as he looked at that moment. Mike named him “Paddington” and took him to Little Shelter to begin his journey of physical and emotional healing…


Whatever life brings, it is possible — and essential — to adjust and adapt.

Only a short year later, Mike peered again into that same enclosure. This time, there rested a younger, smaller, brown version of Paddington: a poor soul who had been so terribly neglected, and whose past was just as big of a mystery as the boy who once occupied the space. In this case, however, not all of the dog’s wrongs could be righted: his sight was lost. Even so, something about this gentle soul reminded Mike of the cage’s former tenant, and that’s where Corduroy enters our story…

Don’t restrain the true range of your emotions from the world…unless you’re sitting at a poker table.

Rescue dogs (at least these bears) don’t know how to reign in their feelings. They wear their proverbial hearts on their proverbial sleeves, and despite what you think you know about preeminent art, I’ve never seen a dog with a decent poker face. The picture above was Paddington’s reaction when we told him he was going to be a big brother. (“What’chu talkin’ ‘bout, Willis?!”) While Paddington gets overly excited about mail delivery and Vanna turning letters on Wheel of Fortune, Corduroy reserves his excitement for begging for snacks with emotional blackmail in the form of whining.

Those who help others are often in need of a fair bit of help themselves.

Within minutes of bringing Corduroy home, we knew that here is right where he belongs, and so did he. He quickly curled up and fell asleep on his new big brother’s butt. Eric and I didn’t realize just how much we had needed these bears in our lives, but we weren’t the only ones that benefited from our ever-expanding family: whereas Corduroy needed someone to lead him, Paddington longed for someone to need him.





Everybody needs a butt scratch every once in a while, but it’s so much more pleasant to have someone else do the honors.

No explanation necessary.

The cliché is true: girls always fall for the bad boy, but it’s a myth that nice guys are destined to finish last.

Often the youngest in the family is the rebel, but in this case, the mischievous one is Paddington! Despite that fact, or maybe, in part, because of it, I am so crazy in love with this little man! He is that charming, irresistible, sensitive soul who every girl wants to “save” from his mysterious and pained past. I think of him as the (far more complex and intelligent) Danny Zuko of cocker spaniels: cool as the other side of the pillow, but willing to be a better guy for love. It’s not surprising that Paddington’s short, dark, and handsome features, coupled with his standout charisma, make him a local celebrity at all of our hangouts: the vet’s office, the groomer’s, and the pet store.

On the other hand, Corduroy, the shy, quiet type, is the stereotypical “nice guy.” Like Paddington, his past is shrouded in mystery, but instead of being the life of the party, Corduroy is the “tortured artist” taking longer to trust someone enough to open his heart. Inside, however, he’s got the soul of a poet. 


Just when you think God must have forgotten about you, he gives you just the right amount of rescue.

Just weeks ago, Corduroy underwent double enucleation surgery. Our hearts broke for our little bunny, when we discovered that no matter how many times a day we gave him eye drops (it was up to three types, three times daily) the pressure from his glaucoma would remain unregulated. Following a very painful, frustrating, and confusing two-week recovery, this scrappy ball of fur wiggles his tiny cottontail a great deal more, and gives far more kisses, too!

Like Paddington at the back of that cage, unmoving and unresponsive, and like Corduroy, suffering from irreversible blindness, undiagnosed glaucoma, and terrible headaches caused by the building pressure in his inoperative eyes, we have all had times when we believed that hope was altogether lost, when we depended on a miracle. We are only able to truly appreciate what we have if we know what it’s like to have not.


The world needs all kinds. Our differences create countless, delicate, beautiful balances that exist everywhere.

We even each other out: Paddington’s confidence compensates for Corduroy’s caution and vulnerability, and while he plays the role of protector for his little brother, Corduroy seeks, and appreciates, his protection. Paddington often guides Corduroy in unfamiliar surroundings, and while Corduroy is a brave little soul who walks into the vet’s office confidently, albeit clumsily, knocking into everything as we enter, his big brother starts shaking like a leaf as soon as we pull into the parking lot! The truth is that we all have special needs: not just the blind, not just the abandoned, but even those of us who have been saved; we only have to look as far as the others in our lives to satisfy these needs.

Our family is now a kooky, crazy mix of personalities, and we’re all the more rich for it! Canine and human alike, we help support each other through each day: troubled or triumphant.

The Monaco Family with Little Shelter rescues Paddington (left) and Corduroy (right)