He survived frigid temperatures, a blizzard, a scarcity of food, and who knows what else, but today Bear, the German Shepherd mixed-breed dog who went missing from his Glen Ridge home on December 12, is back home catching zzzz’s and feasting on healthy food, with liberal doses of love.

On the evening of New Year’s Day, West Orange resident Tina Greenberg and her neighbor, Jayne O’Neel, spotted a stray, large German Shepherd mixed-breed dog wandering out of the woods near their condo development.

“He was very gentle but extremely timid and looked like he had been without a meal for quite some time,” Ms. Greenberg said.

After much prodding, and some help from Ms. O’Neel’s Golden Retriever, Mitzi, who “charmed him,” the women were able to get him on a leash and feed him some kibble and water. They later contacted West Orange Animal Control and “a very compassionate control officer” took him to the local shelter.

Greenberg recalled: “After our lost friend was taken away, his plight touched me so much that I spent time scanning the web to see if someone was missing their beloved pet. Finally, a posting on nj.com caught my eye, and I called the owner. I told her what transpired and gave her the number of the control officer. Subsequently, I saw the posting on Baristanet, which is where I should have started my search!”

The dog’s owner, Helene Duncker, visited the shelter and was ecstatic when she confirmed it was Bear, who had been lost for three weeks, apparently after jumping over a fence in her yard.

“He is favoring a front paw and he is horribly emaciated, but he is alive and in good spirits,” she said. “My New Year’s wish for 2011 has come true and Tina and Jayne helped make it happen.”

Duncker’s brother, Desmond, also had kind things to say about everyone who helped look for Bear: “It’s amazing how sympathetic complete strangers have been and how much energy others have spent checking their yards and wooded areas around their home. One individual left food out in case Bear used her yard (it backs up to a wooded area). Please express thanks to everyone for their efforts in helping us find Bear.”

Duncker offers some helpful hints for people who have lost a pet:

• First, go outside and call your pet. You never know, he or she may be right around the corner or in a neighbor’s yard. Put out some food.

• Go online: Post your lost pet’s information online. Be sure to put your pet’s photo on Baristanet.com, Petfinder.com, NJ.com (Lost & Found classifieds are free), and Craigslist. Also, try other sites such as petHarbor.com and pets911.com.

• Make and distribute flyers: Type up a description of your pet, include a photo and make many copies. Distribute to all the animal shelters in your area and surrounding towns and to all of your neighbors. Post flyers in your post office and municipal building.

• Make phone calls: Call the emergency animal hospitals in your town and in neighboring towns, in case your pet was injured. Google maps is a great tool to find the address and phone numbers of “animal shelters,” “animal hospitals” and “public works” in your area.

• Visit shelters: This is the most important step. You must keep visiting the local shelters each week. I know someone whose lost cat finally showed up in a shelter more than a month after it went missing. The owners had already given up looking and would never have been reunited with their beloved pet but for their daughter who coincidentally went on a school trip to the shelter and spotted her cat.

17 replies on “A Story That “Bears” Telling”

  1. I’m so happy that Bear is home! Kudos to Ms. Greenberg, Ms. O’Neel and Mitzi for
    spotting and rescuing the adorable Bear.

  2. Has an appointment been made to have a vet look at Bear? No telling what he may have eaten on his journey or what other hitchhikers he may have picked up. Great story.

  3. Howard: Yes, the owner brought Bear to the vet for a check-up. From the conversation I had with her, I don’t think there is anything seriously wrong with him, other than malnutrition and dehydration.

  4. So glad those two women stepped up and took the time to search for Bear’s owners! It is all to easy to look the other way sometimes. Thank goodness for people who “step in” instead of away.

  5. I’d be at the supermarket buying him a large steak for diner tonite AND a nice squeeky toy to chew on.

  6. I was very upset when I saw the “Missing Dog” flyers for Bear. He is a sweet dog and very gentle. I am very happy and a little amazed at his safe return.

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