A social campaign helped this dog find a new home with a loyal family

By Nancy Dunham
Updated July 08, 2016 05:05 PM
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Credit: BARCS

For three solid days, Bear did not leave her deceased owner’s side.

Rescuers say the 14-year old canine didn’t move for food, water or even bathroom breaks. Instead she stood loyally by her owner James Ringle, 76, of Baltimore, until the man’s nephew, David Dickens Sr., discovered the body.

“My whole family loves dogs, but it was hard to find somebody to take [Bear],” said Dickens , who discovered his uncle’s body on June 1. “I didn’t want to leave her at the house, so I called BARCS.”

Although Dickens knew the Baltimore Animal Rescue and Care Shelter (BARCS) would humanely care for Bear, he fretted that her age would make it difficult to find her a new home. That worry increased as days passed and no one applied to give the loyal Bear a forever home.

That’s when BARCS’ staff took action.

“My favorite part of this whole story is the power of social media,” said BARCS’ public relations director Bailey Deacon. “This was a dog that was here for several days and she was overlooked by people who wanted puppies. As soon as we posted her story on social media, there was incredible interest in her.”

In fact, Bear became something of a local celebrity. News media interviewed several people who put in applications to adopt Bear and planned to take her home.

When Chelsea Hagerty and her fiancée Alex Cheamitru of nearby Catonsville, Maryland, saw the Facebook post about Bear, they went to BARCS and put in an application to adopt her. Bailey Deacon

“I was surprised when we got her because we were [not first] on the list,” said Hagerty, who had fostered animals for BARCS a few years ago and holds a special place in her heart for older dogs and cats. “I was so happy to bring her home … I just figured she is old and tired and she shouldn’t have to spend the last few years of her life in a shelter. She should have someone take care of her, like she took care of her [former owner].”

Although there were many people who did apply to adopt Bear, Deacon said that they didn’t work out for various reasons, including reluctant family members. BARCS screens adoptees to try to ensure that everyone in a family is on board before the animals is released.

And Bear has shown her gratitude for her new family’s acceptance with an almost endless supply of kisses.

“She is so sweet and affectionate,” said Hagerty. “She is like a little shadow. And she loves to lie all over you. She’s the epitome of everything you’d want in a loyal loving dog.”

Bear also made fast friends with the couple’s 2-year-old dog. The two often play together or simply laze around in the sunshine.

“Our other dog is named Panda. And now we have Bear,” said Hagerty. “I guess it was meant to be.”

Deacon added that the story of Bear is special because her life has come full circle. Chelsea Hagerty

“This is a story of a dog loyally laying by its owner’s side, protecting him,” she said. “Now she has a new family who will loyally stay by her side in her senior years…Adopting a senior pet is one of the most unselfish things someone can do.”

The news of Bear’s adoption made Dickens and the other family members especially happy. And, he said, he’s sure his uncle would be relieved to know that his loyal canine companion has a happy new home.

“On his tombstone it says ‘James Richard Ringle. He loved dogs, cats and two legged women,’ “ said Dickens with a laugh. “He was a real animal lover.”