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Road to Rescue with Leslie Smith

Mama Bear: Full of life, out of time

Dispatch from the Berkeley Animal Care Services shelter, January 7, 2013

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Mama Bear in a typical pose.

UPDATE: January 11, 2013:

Mama Bear is currently in a warm and happy temporary foster home! On January 30th, Home at Last Rescue will be sponsoring a stay at Elite Dogs (a boarding/training facility) in Sacramento for Mama Bear. The hope is that Mama Bear finds a longer-term foster or permanent home before January 30th, but in the event that she doesn't, funds are being raised to ensure she has a spot to move on to at Elite Dogs. All money raised will go towards her stay there and all donations will be refunded should she find a home before then. To help via a donation, or find out how to foster or adopt Mama Bear, check out her info on ChipIn.

Not an officially recognized breed but would be if I were in charge: Medium to large, well-muscled, energetic dogs who don’t hesitate to plunk themselves in your lap as if they were a 10-pound Shih Tzu.

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Sure, I'll play.

Mama Bear is one such type. Of course, I didn’t know that when I went poking around her kennel to see why she wasn’t tackling the Kong I’d dropped off earlier. There it was, sitting on her bed like chopped liver. Or rather… bitter apple.

Turns out, it wasn’t my cooking, but the way I’d served it, she found unappetizing. As soon I sat down on the floor and scooped the Kong to my middle, onto my legs she dove.

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Mama Bear paying attention in obedience class.

Wet-food-from-Kong evisceration is not a tidy endeavor among even the most delicate eaters, and Mama approached the process with vigor. She balanced and re-centered herself every few seconds in a desperate and futile attempt to keep all four paws, torso, and tail in my lap. Occasionally she'd look up to make sure it was still me, dribbling pureed poultry bits across my overalls and delivering chickeny kisses. We were both in heaven.

Mama Bear has been at the shelter a while now. She’s smart and active and inquisitive. Long hours in a small kennel are least ideal for dogs like her, and confinement is starting to take a toll. As administrators so eloquently put it, Mama has “reached her maximum ability to handle the shelter overload.”

For us volunteers, it’s especially heartbreaking — and puzzling — when a true Pit Bull ambassador struggles to find a family. She’s so good, I think. Canine- and human-friendly. Politely attentive on walks. Highly playful, but equally snuggly. And outwardly beautiful to boot.

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Kind, gentle, affectionate.

Time, however, is running out. We have through Thursday to secure a foster situation or permanent loving home for Mama Bear. If you can help, please contact Berkeley Animal Care Services; for more information, check Mama Bear's Facebook page.

This gal has earned it. Not that she needed to.

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