Adopting a Bear
Structural Engineer –
On March 13, 2013 my wife and I added a new holiday to our annual celebrations. It was the day we adopted our beloved dog, Bear, who is an all-black, male, German shepherd. He was roughly 3 years old when we adopted him and had been left at a shelter by his owner late in January after being bitten in the face by another shepherd.
Our adventure actually began on a Wednesday in early February when I called a veterinary surgeon in Knoxville, Tennessee (a former board member of the Humane Society of the Tennessee Valley in Knoxville) to begin a discussion about dog adoption. We wanted to apply and find a good match by the time I would graduate in May. We had a pleasant discussion about our family’s lifestyle and living situation, why we wanted a German shepherd and whether the breed would be right for us. He told me that his office staff would keep their eyes and ears open for a shepherd in need of adoption. TWO HOURS later I received a call from his secretary telling me about 80 lb. Bear, his story, and the surgery he would have that Friday to be neutered and to fix a partially healed gash under his eye.
We visited Bear on Friday afternoon after his surgeries. He sat on my wife’s lap and peed on my leg. My wife thought it was a sign and was instantly attached, however I was not convinced. We debated over the weekend and decided to foster him for the next month and see how it went. At first it was rough. He barked constantly when we were gone (much to our neighbor’s dismay) and tore up blankets and pads in his crate, but we endured. After two weeks he began to trust us and flashes of his true personality came out.
Today he is 100lbs, has a striking black glossy coat, and walks off-leash no more than 20 feet away from us at all times. He loves to hike in the mountains, play fetch, have his chest scratched, and snuggle with his parents. He has some anxieties we are continuing to work through (bicycles, strollers, distant sounds, etc…), but the headaches caused by his anxieties are far outweighed by the joy he has brought to our lives. After moving to Denver from Knoxville, Bear was my wife’s only friend for 3 months (besides me of course!) before she found a job, and he was always at her side. His need for exercise helps get us out of bed in the morning or off the couch after work. He has been an incredible addition to our family.
Both my wife and I are strong supporters of animal adoption ever since we got Bear. So many dogs, cats, and other animals need homes and will love you forever if you provide a warm, loving home. Bear is a special story in that oftentimes black dogs, especially big black dogs, are overlooked in shelters because of their frightening color and size (ABCnews). I’ve spoken with several potential dog owners who say they do not want an older and potentially “quirky” dog from a shelter because they can be extra work. Though that may be true, shelter dogs are generally “quirkier” than puppies, but, in my opinion, puppies are as much work, if not more work, than a rescue. Potty training, chew training, puppy energy, etc. Makes me tired just thinking about it! Rescuing has other perks including purchase cost, vaccine costs and no puppy mill risk.
In summary, our dog rescue experience has been grueling at times, but always worth the headache. Bear is a fantastic dog and we love him emphatically. From the Whelan family to yours: if pursuing animal ownership, please consider rescuing.
Denver Dumb Friends League http://www.ddfl.org/