An Osoyoos couple has their dog, Bear, back home after surrendering him to the Okanagan Humane Society due to health problems they thought would leave them unable to care for him.
Kathrine and her husband have had the four-year-old Great Pyrenees since he was a puppy.
The over 100-pound pup settled right beside Kathrine during her interview with Castanet, content to be back by her side after just a few days away. There was heavy emotion from both of them, who have had their lives flipped upside down in the past week.
At the start of December, the family started experiencing health problems. A serious diagnosis meant the family would need to move to the coast for care.
“I was told that I had to go to Vancouver and be his nursemaid. I had so much stuff to do, I was mentally beside myself with sadness with my husband. But then I had to realize I had to get either an apartment or a basement suite, or a motel room and then I thought I can't take my 130-pound Great Pyrenees with me,” Kathrine shared.
She realized taking her giant dog to the city while trying to look after her husband at the hospital was not a feasible idea, and wasn’t fair for either of them. The news came fast and she’d have to find a new home for Bear immediately.
Community members helped connect Kathrine with the Okanagan Humane Society, who took her dog into their foster home program with a temporary foster arrangement.
“So I said, ‘Yes, absolutely. We'll find a foster home for him right away.’ In fact, I decided that I would foster him myself, because it was such an urgent situation,” Volunteer President Romany Runnalls explained.
Bear got checked out by a vet, neutered and microchipped before he settled in at the president’s home, a process done every time by the society before they go to their foster home.
“Romany phoned me and told me step by step, what was happening with my dog, and of course, all I was doing was just bawling. I was just so upset. She was my only person that I could talk to that could understand what I was going through,” Kathrine shared.
It was clear Bear was distraught without his family too.
“[Bear] was a little discombobulated having to be away from his home and having never been away from his owners. Catherine said that they have Bear with them 24/7 for his entire life, which was evident because he was clearly missing them,” Runnalls said.
Miraculously overnight, things changed in their world.
“It turned out that Kathrine didn't need to go down to the coast for six months to care for her husband and that in fact, he was going to be able to be brought back to the Okanagan,” Runnalls said.
“She was happy about that, but very sad that she didn't have Bear. I said to her 'Well, no, if this has changed, we would want you to have Bear back with you. It would be the best for you and the best for Bear by all means.'"
Because of the way the Okanagan Humane Society’s program works, the volunteers can reunite the pets or may re-home them, depending on each situation.
“So I said 'You mean I can have my dog back?' So I pretty well got in my car and I drove as fast as I could. She said, ‘Take your time’ and I'm like ‘gah!’ I got to the house and Bear attacked me, jumped all over me. It was like Christmas 10,000 times over,” Kathrine said, tears welling in her eyes.
“The love between them is just amazing. So to be able to provide this kind of care in the situation just worked out really well,” Runnalls said.
Bear and his owners will all be recovering together in the Okanagan, with Kathrine expressing a huge thank you to all the volunteers, community members and the society for helping her.
The Okanagan Humane Society is a Registered Canadian Charity, all online and completely foster home based. The society is volunteer run and relies on donations and grants to help pay for vet bills and pet care.
The team is currently looking for more fosters in the Okanagan area. To find out more about the organization, or to donate, visit their website here.