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The Bear Project - Book Fundraiser by Jody Crossley

How a Jack Russell named Bear grew her angel wings after saving my life

This is a story of monumental love between a Jack Russell called Bear and her owner Jody Crossley. She shares her very personal journey of grief and pet loss and how she wrote her own book to help other pet owners who may be going through a similar experience.

"I was 30 years old when I met 9-week old Bear and I think we chose each other. Prior to meeting Bear I didn’t have a name picked out I had said to my parents I will know her name when I meet her. 

Once I held her in my arms I introduced her to my mum and dad (known as nan and pop), I said "mum, dad meet Bear, Bear, meet nan and pop". On the way home, mum said to me "why have you called her Bear?" I had a smile and said because she is a small dog but she is going to be larger than life with a big heart. Boy, I couldn’t have been more spot on!

Bear had come to me at a point in life where I was a broken down shell of a person, who really didn’t have a lot to look forward to in life. My turmoil started at the age of 14 when I was in high school I was severely bullied to a point where I was sent death threats by a group of girls, this was detrimental to my schooling years. At the age of 17, I was raped and didn’t have enough courage to speak up and hold the person accountable for the actions allowing the perpetrator to get away with what he had done. 

In my early twenties I had gone through a domestic violence relationship and managed to find the strength and courage to leave the relationship. Moving on to age 25,  I was diagnosed with a chronic medical condition called Crohn’s disease.

Just when you think life had thrown enough at me I was attacked / assaulted by a family member which, as you can imagine caused a major family rift, but life still hadn’t finished throwing enough punches at me. At the age of 34 I moved to a very remote location in NSW, ten hours away from my family and friends and health professionals. I am now 39 and it is at this point of my life were I experienced two miscarriages and my engagement fell apart. My partner had shown interest in a work colleague and I had to move back home. 

Bear was 9 years old at this time and she had another partner in crime Angel (mini Foxy x Chihuahua) who was 5 years old.

Angel and Bear, blissfully asleep together

I moved back home in 2014 and after being back home for 2 months, I tried to take my own life. I guess you could say that I had had enough of the hard knocks in life... 

This is where Bear stepped up and saved my life! Bear also has a cat sibling named Puss. 

Jody with Angel & Bear, the 3 musketeers!

Bear and Angel were the best of friends their entire life, however Puss only tolerated my two little ladies. 

At this moment when I was about to take my life it was as if Bear had organised an intervention and rallied the troops - Angel and Puss - all three of them came into the bathroom and sat together in unison looking at me as much as to say “you can’t do this, what will happen to us, who is going to love and look after us?”.

Bear was always in tune with me from the moment I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, she would alert me when I needed my iron infusions by licking the back of my right hand, she would stay with me and comfort me for days on end when I was bed ridden with this awful disease. 

Bear and I had strong communication with verbal cues and eye contact; honestly, it was like we could read each other’s minds through our eyes!

Bear and I had a powerful bond, I believe animals can help heal people in ways medical professionals can’t. I was a broken down person when I met Bear but through everything I had endured, she managed to tap into and unlock my hurt with a key.

Bear playing with Jojo the joey
Bear taught me so much about life, she gave me a purpose no matter how hard the days were, she inspired me, provided me with comfort, joy and so much happiness.

Bear had a lot of medical issues herself over the years and as I watched her overcome her hurdles, she transferred her resilience, strength and courageousness to me.

She showed me bravery but most of all, she showed me how to love and live life again

Bear made me a bigger better version of myself, I loved Bear with my entire heart and when she left me at the age of 16.5 years on 16th November 2021, I was shattered.

Of all the things that life had thrown at me over the years, I can wholeheartedly say that losing Bear was the hardest journey / walk I have endured. All of the above things I had been through in life suddenly felt like they were a walk in the park compared to losing Bear. 
Only those who have lost the true love of their life - their heart animal - understand the feeling of grief.
I looked for a book from a person’s personal journey in relation to grief but couldn’t find what I was looking for so I decided to write my own book and wrote it in the same way in which I was hoping to read. 

My book is unapologetically raw and emotional but also inspirational: it talks about the deep bonds between pet and owner and how a pet impacts and makes our lives better
I discuss the raw emotions of grief and guilt and the journey I shared with Bear. I honestly believe that since losing Bear I will never be the same person...
Grief has changed me but Bear gave me another purpose to help others with the grieving process.
Whilst I was writing my book I realised there was a bigger purpose and that was to become an advocate for pet parents and pets

I have written a chapter dedicated to our veterinarians as after all, they are our unsung heroes who treat, love and save our pets' lives every day, and they also form bonds with both our pets and us the owners. 

Unfortunately, the veterinary industry has a high suicide rate due to the job's pressures and constraints but more inexcusable is the abuse they receive from pet parents. I wanted to shine a light on our vet professionals. My vet team came to me as complete strangers but now they are like family. 

With Bear’s passing they sent me flowers, checked in with messages, hand on heart I can honestly say I couldn’t have gotten through losing Bear without them. With this chapter, I want to help them by shining a spotlight on them. I plead for people to be kinder to our vet teams as we cannot afford to lose amazing people like them. I like to look at it in this way, before abusing a vet or their staff, please consider these things:

✔️ Has this vet just worked a double shift as someone called in sick?

✔️ Has this vet worked back to back on two pets to save their lives (emergencies rushed in)?

✔️ Has this vet even had a meal break, let alone a toilet stop?

✔️ Has this vet just comforted a grieving pet parent who had to say goodbye to their pet? But the vet is then expected to come into the next consult as if nothing had happened?
The other purpose of my book is to raise the awareness for pet loss in the workplace. 
Most workplaces don’t recognise pets or pet parents in the workplace and I would like to see policies changed to include pets and pet parents and for pet parents to receive paid bereavement day / leave, as you do when a family member passes away. 
Love is love it doesn’t matter whether it is a person or a pet!
Bear having a heart-to-heart with bunny Nala
For some people like myself who don’t have family, live on their own and have a chronic medical condition my fur babies are not pets they are my children and they deserve to be recognised as just that. 

When I look at Bear and our journey, we shared 16.5 years together, my relationships have not lasted that long, let alone some marriages...

When we lose a person in our lives, people rally around and say they are sorry for your loss, is there anything I can do to help, take all the time you need – however when we lose a pet we don’t get this same recognition or acknowledgement. 

I look at what parents do with children how they raise them from a baby into an adolescent, I have done the exact same process with Bear. I have toilet trained her, taken her to puppy school, socialised her with people and other pets, constantly trained her through her early years and rushed her to the vets in the middle of the night. There is no difference between a parent and a pet parent.

When you have a pet, grief is something that you will not and can not escape and will need to face one day it is completely debilitating. 

Grief does not discriminate, it doesn’t care how old or young you are, whether you are famous or homeless, whether you're rich or poor, it strikes you down with same intensity of emotions, it is debilitating, gut wrenching, you feel lost and empty.

My book has been written with so much heart, love and passion that I know this book will be able to help others.

It is now complete and I have found a company for its production but it does come at a cost of $10,000, for which I am trying to raise funds via business sponsorships and donations.

Fast forward to October 2022 and Jody's book is now officially published!

The Bear Project is an inspirational story of great love about an amazing bond between a human and a little Jack Russell named Bear. Bear was small in stature but had a larger-than-life personality and an even bigger heart.

For anyone who is or has grieved for the loss of their pet, this will truly pull on your heart strings. It will move you and make you realise you are not alone in this grief-stricken journey.

This story will make you smile and cry, and touch your heart, but it also will highlight the true bond between a human and their pet companion.

Pets are such an integral part of our lives. They can reach people on levels other people can't, including health professionals.

This book highlights the true gifts that our pets are and give you a better understanding of how they can make a difference in a person's life.

"Bear, your legacy lives on. You were the best gift ever. I am truly grateful for every single day we spent together. Forever in my heart, never forgotten."
Paperback, 224 pages
Self-Published: 10th October 2022

Price: $38.50 from; $41.95 from

You can also follow The Bear Project on Facebook and listen to Jody's heartfelt words to all pet owners on You Tube.

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