Grey Bear grew up in the woods chained to a doghouse filled with straw. His only company was other dogs and an owner who didn’t interact with them, except to provide food and water. Fortunately, the man was persuaded to give them up so they could have a better life. 100 lbs, fearful, and lacking social skills, Grey Bear spent a year at the shelter without being adopted. He sometimes went days without touching his food and usually ate after everyone left for the night. He didn’t know how to play with toys and often wet the bed when anxious. Lesley, a visitor who supported shelter efforts, knew Grey Bear needed someone to reach out and make a connection. She took him for long walks and reduced his anxiety with reassuring words and massages. Measured by subtle differences in his behavior, her efforts had a positive effect. Still, it was obvious that Grey Bear needed a home environment to thrive. Lesley took the next step and offered to foster him.
With open arms and warm hearts, Lesley and Julie welcomed Grey Bear to his first indoor home. The new adventure included a nature-friendly picturesque setting. Humans would think “How lovely!” but many dogs put in unfamiliar situations think “Holy Cow, where’s the door?” Twenty-four hours after arriving, with a leash clip malfunction, Grey Bear bolted. A big dog can cover a lot of ground, but he backtracked and remained nearby. Food was set outside daily, and he’d venture close to eat a portion. They set a cage trap inside an empty doghouse he was using, but he then retreated 150’ further up the path to stay under a stand of pines. He still came down the hill to eat near the doghouse but wouldn’t enter it.
Lesley emailed and included her number. I talked with both women numerous times to lend advice and emotional support. Grey Bear was very thin, and an impending snowstorm added pressure. Lesley created a “bigger mousetrap” using snow fencing to surround the area most used by Grey Bear. She made an entrance gate that closed with a hand-held fixed line. Julie stood watch from a second story window. Hidden from sight, Lesley gripped the line taut and waited for Julie’s signal flash. It was dark and extremely cold. Grey Bear wandered in around 10 PM, the signal given, and the gate was closed. With a nod to times spent bonding at the shelter, he didn’t shy away when Lesley approached with a leash. Starting out as a runaway foster, Grey Bear ended up in his “forever” home. He settled in nicely, became a couch potato, and even stayed put when company came. Congratulations on a job well done. I knew you’d get him! Note: The doghouse cage trap was set up well, very inviting, and a good example of how a trap should look. See more pics of traps under “Trapping.”