For Detroit shelter dog, Bear, life has always been a little rough. When he was just 7 months old, he was picked up as a stray in Flint, Michigan and taken in by Detroit Animal Welfare Group (DAWG) and was described as extremely emaciated. As a puppy, you would think that with a bit of rehabilitation and lots of food, he would easily find his new forever home, but this was not the case for Bear.
At first, he was fostered by a family who enjoyed his company, but when they had new family move in they were forced to bring him back because they could no longer care for him. That was nearly three years ago, and ever since then Bear has been repeatedly passed up while all of his shelter friends get adopted.
“Bear is wonderful with people,”Kelley LaBonty, director of DAWG, told The Dodo. “He loves kids, he loves men and women. He’s very playful, and he loves to cuddle and get belly rubs. He knows his basic commands.”
Though Bear might seem perfect, there is a huge catch that DAWG not only discloses but says is absolutely necessary to comply with when interviewing possible applicants: Bear does not get along with other animals and would need to be the only pet in a home. It’s a trait that is common in many dogs of all sizes, but for some reason has prevented Bear from finding his forever home.
While it’s already sad that Bear has been without a home this whole time, the fact that he came close to being adopted at one point almost makes his whole story even worse. There was one family that showed tons of interest, and meet-ups were arranged to see if he would be a good fit.
“We did have one lady who drove an hour and a half to meet him, and she really, really liked him, and she said, ‘I think he’d be a great dog for our family,’” LaBonty said. “And it was a very good home for him — it was out in the country with a fenced yard and it was a family with kids. It was a perfect setup.”
Although the mom liked Bear, it was a different story when DAWG volunteers drove to the family’s house so they could officially meet Bear. According to LaBonty, the kids decided that they didn’t want Bear and that they wanted to look into other dogs. Though Bear didn’t know what words were being exchanged, he seemed to understand what was happening because he became extremely depressed.
“He didn’t want to go back into the car to go back home,” LaBonty said.
This isn’t Bear’s only time being introduced to potential adopters, either. He’s been to hundred events over the years and many people have said online and in-person that they would love to take him, but it always falls through. One woman excitedly said she would take him, scheduled a meet-and-greet, and then never showed up. When Bear and some other DAWG residents attended a huge Empty the Shelter adoption event in April of this year, volunteers were hopeful that Bear would catch someone’s eye. Instead, every single other animal DAWG brought was adopted except for Bear.
“He came back to the shelter, and that’s when I took a picture of him,” LaBonty said of the below photo. “It went viral because it was a very sad picture. He did not want to go back in the kennel.”
Despite the relatively large amount of space that Bear has in his kennel, volunteers and staff have said that he is visibly depressed and lethargic almost all the time. LaBonty said that he spends most of his time laying on his bed with his head down. The only time he really perks up now is when the staff brings him out daily to play in the yard, where he can play for hours at a time and is reportedly a great running partner.
Although the staff truly wants him to find a home, they are firm in their belief that it needs to be perfect. They refuse to settle just to get him out of the shelter because they care about him so much.
“We don’t want to set him up to fail,” LaBonty said. “We all love him very much, and we don’t want to put him in a situation where he would fail and have a bad outcome. So that’s why we try and find him the right home for him, and hopefully it will come soon.”
If you live in the area, check Bear out online here.