Teddy Bear’s story was originally shared in the Clear the Shelters Adoption Story Challenge on ShelterChallenge.com. Create your own free Shelter Challenge account and vote for your favorite shelter or rescue group to win cash and prizes. Every time you vote we’ll give an extra donation to shelters!
Scared and waiting on death row in another shelter, Teddy Bear was brought to Santa Paula Animal Rescue Center (SPARC) in 2016 as a last resort. His owner at the time had surrendered him after adopting him from yet another shelter. That was just the beginning of Teddy’s story.
Losing His First Owner
His first owner, the owner of his heart, got Alzheimer’s Disease. The disease progressed and there were days, maybe even weeks, that went by in which he could not rely on food or even being recognized or acknowledged. We believe that his owner may have forgotten she owned a dog and that she may have become frightened of him and screamed and yelled at him. Her behavior was erratic, and he became more and more frightened — so much so his trust in humans started to give out.
Unfortunately, when a dog loses their trust in humans they can act out, and the only way that dogs can communicate with the outside world is with their mouths. After the disease had progressed enough for his first owner to no longer be able care for him, he was admitted to his first shelter.
From Shelter to Shelter
Teddy Bear is adorable (seriously, have you seen the photos?) so he always got lots of adoption inquiries. He was adopted by a woman who really cared for him and tried hard to get help for him, hiring trainers to no avail. Even she had to surrender him to yet another shelter.
Even though she couldn’t keep him, she didn’t give up on him and continued to search frantically for a place for him to go. When his behavior did not improve in the shelter environment, Teddy Bear was put on the euthanasia list. Fortunately, SPARC was able to step in and take him in.
Again, because he’s adorable, he was adopted quickly. But his trust issues brought him back to SPARC just as quickly as he left. Teddy Bear settled in with his handlers, who he loved, and an amazing volunteer who worked hard to train him and earn his trust. The volunteer took him home on many weekend visits, sending one of his dogs to his parents’ house so Teddy Bear could get a break. He even paid for SPARC to send Teddy to a doggie psychiatrist, trying to help him.
Somehow this adorable little dog with the cute name was not given up on. Teddy settled into life at the shelter. He had some suitors who came and went through the paces of getting to know him, but no one said they wanted to take him home, even though several people got close.
The Right Person
We were hopeful and never gave up that the right person was out there somewhere. There were surprises along the way — for example, he did really well in playgroup, responding to the exercise and socialization with other dogs. What a relief to see him play with other dogs!
Then, one day, it happened. A person came to the shelter looking for the dog who had been there the longest, the one who had the most “issues” and she was a veterinarian! We held our breath as the visits continued and one day Teddy Bear licked her hand and that was all it took. Teddy was hopeful too!
He went home for a foster period to see if they could make it work. Then, in the middle of August during Clear the Shelters, it became official. After 4 long years, Teddy Bear, the dog with major trust issues who came to us off of death row, FINALLY went to his forever home!
He has a dog door, a yard to play in, his very own Instagram account (@Vintage.Teddy.Bear) and begs for table scraps just like all of the other very loved dogs in the world. The dog we thought would never find the right person, was finally able to feel loved again. And all of the hard work we do at the shelter became worth it.
Story submitted by Aja Benninghoff.
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