Success Stories »Bear

  • Zion’s Gentle Windwalker
    aka Bear
    Cathy & Stephan Zybala
    sire: Zion's the Mark of Zorro | dam: Zion's Bring n' Back Kari
    b. Oct 10, 2000 | brown sable smooth

In 2001 we brought home a 10 month old named Bear from a kennel in upstate New York. I was working as a nanny at the time and had some very specific needs in a dog and was told this boy would be a perfect fit (we were told his nickname was Prozac Bear). Although the condition of the dog (soft ears and all), the way he was being kept, his frantic demeanor and his surroundings at this kennel made me suspicious, I could not turn my back on him and leave him there. So to our home in downtown Toronto he came, and our journey began.

After about two weeks of showing no desire to bond with us, Bear was exhibiting a very troubling, child-fearful and aggressive nature. We assumed he hadn’t been socialized or exposed to anything in the important first weeks of his life. One day, he nipped a passer by with no warning given. Next, a jogger was nipped and his dog aggression started to manifest. More bites ensued, so we sought out an amazing trainer. Progress was made in training, but we finally had to admit this was hard wired behavior, and a product of his breeding. Our only choice was to isolate him, but as we were living in downtown Toronto in an apartment, this was a monumental task. The last bite was our upstairs neighbor, and this one was reported to the city. Bear was now in trouble.

Dear friends of ours, and fellow Shiloh owners, offered us an incredible opportunity to move out of the city with Bear, in exchange for helping them with their new property. We accepted and a new chapter opened. Many adjustments had to be made as Bear would not accept their three dogs, and everyone had to adapt to a rotating system of letting the dogs out. Bear being sharp/shy caused him to be very aggressive toward the other dogs every time he would see or hear them. Showing incredible patience with us and our Bear, everyone adapted until one day another bite occurred. Bear had been showing acceptance to the other people that were there at the time, so he was being given some freedom. But, yet another bite happened. The decision was made that Bear would be neutered, and would have to always be on leash.

All is not bad though, as Bear has now fully bonded with us. He is silly, goofy, smart and one of the family. We come home to a huge hello and a cuddle session on the couch. He follows us around the house and wants to be with us. This is a huge step for as a young dog he would not even stay in the same room with us and would stare at the front door for hours. He plays, he=s happy and loves us as much as we love him. After we neutered him his ears came up. At 18 months his x-rays showed grade 2 CDH in both hips with deformed femoral heads and arthritic changes, but he is still sound and very strong. This is a dog that in another situation would not have made it to his third birthday, but through a series of amazing events and the understanding of some great people Bear is still with us and enriching our lives.

Bear has taught us to be patient and understanding. We have learned how to be better handlers and owners, but most importantly he has given us valuable insight into the workings of the canine mind. This story unfortunately is not that uncommon, and other dogs like him have not made it, even though other owners have also made major adjustments to their lives to save them. If we had stayed in Toronto much longer we are sure we would have been given a destroy order and would have lost our boy. But Bear and us are some of the lucky ones. We will keep Bear safe from the situations he can not handle. We have had to keep him in isolation and only we have been able to enjoy the wonderful side of his personality. We have had people tell us that they feel sorry for Bear, but he is having a life, and loves us as we love him. Isn't that what it is really all about?