Early on Saturday morning our big, gentle, beautiful Ralph passed away. He had been in hospital since Tuesday after losing the ability to raise himself, we thought it was his arthritis advancing and possibly getting into his spine. An xray revealed absolutely no arthritis in him, so we had to look at other causes for his loss of mobility. It turned out that he had an enormous brain tumor which was reavealed by MRI. We were looking at possibly flying him to Queensland for radiation therapy, but the discovery of the tumor came too late and he died peacefully in his sleep. Looking back, we can now see that the little changes in Ralph's behaviour which we attributed to his getting old and perhaps a little dotty, were actually signs of this growing menace in his brain. These changes happened so slowly and over such a long time, that we got used to them and thought little of them until it was too late. Given the size of the tumor, the vet was surprised that he hadn't been having seizures. I wish that he had, as that would have told us that something was seriously amiss with our wonderful companion, and something could have been done to save him. As it is, the family is still in disbelief, it was heartbreaking to tell our daughter overseas and all I wanted was to have her here so that I could put my arms around her, she sounded so devastated over the phone.
Ralph was one of those perfect beings, he was gentle and a true gentleman. There was absolutely no malice in him, all he ever wanted to do was to please us. As a puppy he learned very quickly, in fact there was very little training needed with him as he seemed to instinctively know what was required. He has been a wonderfully inspirational companion to have around and no doubt he will continue to inspire many bears to come. I am heartbroken and devastated at his loss, there is such a huge hole in my life now. I feel a little better now that he's home with us, we buried him under the walnut trees on Monday, rest in peace Ralphie boy.