ARTHUR, N.D. — Bringing a new furry friend into the family means a lot of changes. Going through potty training, learning the little guy or gal's personality and loving them until they are no longer there to love are just part of having a dog.
The average life expectancy for a mostly indoor pooch is between 10 and 13 years. Fortunately for Linda Schroeder, her little Teddybear has blown past that — and if he were a person, not a miniature poodle, he'd now be old enough to enjoy a beer with his human.
Bringing Ted home
"My husband actually got him for me," Schroeder says about Teddybear, who usually goes by the nickname Ted, while sitting in her Arthur apartment that she shares with her pup. "And I was not so happy."
At the time, Linda and her husband Bob lived in the woods just outside of Pelican Rapids, Minn., where they owned their own personal zoo.
"We already had dogs, cats and many other animals: chickens, pigeons, ducks, ponies," she says. "He called me up and said, 'I have something little, black and fluffy that I bought for you,' and I said 'You did NOT get another animal!' We just didn't need it. I was really upset with him."
But with one look, all of that changed.
"I came home that weekend and as soon as I saw him, it was over," Schroeder says. "I totally fell in love with him."
That was in 1998.
21 years young
Ted has seen a lot over the past 21 years.
He has been around long enough for the launch of Google (1998) and the separation of Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston (1998). He was alive for both the Columbine school shooting (1999) and the Boston Marathon bombing (2013). He ushered in a new millennium, got to watch as the nation's first black president was elected and was still around for the separation of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie in 2016.
He's even made it through the unfortunate passing of Schroeder's husband, Bob, in 2010.
"(Bob) passed away in a traffic accident that we were both in," she says. "Teddy was not with us that day, but he always went everywhere with us. He's a rider."
The accident killed both Bob and his brother, and it sent Linda to the hospital. All of the pets were re-homed, and Ted and Linda packed up and moved away.
"When they brought him back after Bob had died and we had been away from him, he cuddled right in and just hugged me tight," she says. "That night when I went to bed, he made the strangest howl. He never made that sound before and has never made it since. it was just like he was grieving, like he knew."
Ted is a ladies' man. Schroeder says when they are riding around town, he will try flirting with young women who pull up in cars next to them.
It makes sense, though — he was born on Feb. 14.
"He's my little valentine," she says. "He is quite the little lover. He's fathered maybe 100 pups. He did have a wife, though. It was the only dog that he really played with and got along with, otherwise he's really a people person. We got Lulu about a year after him and they were really close."
He fathered several litters with his Lhasa Apso "wife," Lulu, but he wasn't too keen on the whole father role.
"Ted doesn't really like any of his pups," Schroeder says. "He doesn't care about them. We always raised them in the house and Lulu was a really good mom, but if we had them penned in one area, he would walk all the way around them. Because he was the baby."
Ted and Lulu's pups have gone on to lead some pretty spectacular lives, with one working as a therapy dog in a nursing home and another changing the life of a young boy with autism. After Bob's fatal car accident, Lulu lived with Schroeder's son until she passed away about five years ago.
Keeping him young
He's had to make a big adjustment, moving from the farm in Pelican Rapids to apartment life in Arthur, but Ted has taken it all in stride.
"We used to let him out in the morning and he would go from animal to animal saying good morning," Schroeder says. "He'd go out and sit on the hill overlooking the pond we had and look back and forth like he was surveying his domain. Now, he's had to adjust to moving into an apartment and being on a leash — he had free rein (on the farm)."
Ted takes walks a few times a day when the weather is nice, sleeps under the covers with Schroeder and sits on the end of the couch to watch cars pass by.
"Once in a while, he gets frisky," Schroeder says. "But he sleeps a lot now. He plays with his toys but he sleeps a lot. He's always had good vet care the whole time — I've been very careful about that — but the vet says he is in perfect shape."
Schroeder says Ted ate dry dog food up until very recently and still enjoys going for rides in the car.
"He's just been a good pup," she says. "He knows when I am sad. He's gotten me through some really tough times, some really, really tough times. I just thank God for him all the time. He just keeps going."