This is the story of a foster Eskie who just would not leave his foster home. Last April Teddy Bear came to stay with me, my fiancÚ Jimmy, our two Eskies, Blackie and Molly, and our two cats, Itchy and Pumpkin. He arrived as a package foster deal with another wild Eskie pup, Frosty (now happily settled in Pennsylvania as Lucky).

Teddy, only eight months old, had been dumped in a shelter because he 'bit' the children in his family. A very old story in rescue, the original owners could not handle what was typical puppy behavior - nipping, a jumping problem and generally atrocious manners. All of these could have been corrected with early obedience training. So instead, rescued from the shelter, he landed a spot in our home for intense behavior modification.

Teddy was beautiful - gorgeous full coat and a lean, svelte build. But his first days in our home were a real trial. To start with, Teddy and Frosty hated each other, beginning with a very chaotic ride from Connecticut to our home. (Read "The Teddy Bear/Frosty Nexus" for more details.) At home, Teddy Bear turned out to be big chicken boy, hiding from Frosty every time Frosty even looked at him

Blackie predicted trouble from the moment he met Teddy.

Then, while I was at work the next day, Teddy Bear mangled my fiancÚ Jimmy's hand when Jimmy reached into his crate. The first thing Jimmy did when I got home from work was to show me blood stained paper towels and the chunk of flesh missing from his hand. But miraculously, Jimmy and Teddy Bear had spent the rest of the day becoming buddies. So Jimmy and I worked with Teddy Bear together. We worked on basic commands, as well as basic manners... such as not walking on the dining room table and not snatching food off counters, or out of garbage cans, or out of our hands (this is how he got the name Snatchy Hog).

After two months of intense training, we had the initial problems under control, but our little Baby Bear developed another problem-- a big one: a hatred for strangers. He become very protective - growling, lunging and even drawing blood, most notably from our landlord who had not (and still has not!) given permission for a third dog. Teddy Bear was great with us, though! He does enjoy acting ferocious with us, but it's all in play. He snaps at the air-- as if impersonating a shark. He especially likes to look and act ferocious when wrestling with Blackie. Here they are in the backyard and on the beach - that's Teddy Bear in the back This is how he got the name Growly Bear.


Despite this new problem with strangers, a couple in Miami Beach wanted to adopt Teddy Bear. They were committed to helping him overcome this newly developed problem and were convinced they could do it. This seemed to be a special case--worthy of a long distance adoption by Eskie Railroad. But, instead, I decided to take Teddy Bear to Florida myself...Well, I had invested three months into this pup and he was a bit crazy around new people (to say the least). Besides, I had family down there, including my father who had just had emergency quadruple by-pass surgery. This was the plan: I would rent a car, deliver Teddy Bear to his new home, visit family and then fly home. Repeated delays and problems might have served as premonitions, but I went ahead with the plan anyway. A visit to my future in-laws went very smoothly, even though my future father-in-law loved to tease my little fuzzbutt. I thought maybe Teddy Bear was shaping up and had high hopes for the adoption.

Early in the morning, feeling quite confident, I took Teddy Bear to a beautiful home in Miami Beach. It was stunning! While Teddy Bear kept up a constant barage of barking and lunging on the leash, the couple proceeded to tell me exactly how they wanted to spoil every fluffy white ounce of him. But Teddy Bear just could not be consoled. We decided to try to ignore him--though he was absolutely flipping out--to give him a chance to calm down. We humans ate a wonderful meal--and we attempted food bribery for Teddy Bear. He was particularly unappreciative.

I decided that leaving Teddy Bear alone there might rmight help--since he was so protective of me. So, I left, heading for a cruise of South Beach. I called my fiancÚ en route to report the potential problem. That's when Jimmy confessed. On that last night before Teddy Bear and I left, Jimmy whispered to Teddy Bear that if he was really bad and bit the people he would be able to come back and live with us. Evidently, Teddy Bear understood perfectly and actually preferred living on Long Island with a zoo full of other animals, rather than living in the lap of luxury as a spoiled pampered pooch. Defies logic, but so it was. My cruise of South Beach was cut short. The adoptors had given up. Teddy, still in the crate, was going berserk, and they were feeling unsafe. They were upstairs in a closed bedroom and had left the front door unlocked so I could come in and get control of him before they came down. As soon as I got there I could see the relief on Teddy Bear's face. He grew more excited as I packed his stuff back in the car.

So, I cancelled my plans to visit my parents, who were in no condition to deal with Teddy Bear in his current state. Pat and Rich, my future in-laws, let the two of us stay for a few much needed days of rest before the trip back home. Every time I left the house, even if just to get something from the car, Pat and Rich told me that Teddy Bear would sit by the door and wait for me with pathetic eyes. Teddy was really worried. While loading the car after our stopover on the way home, I caught him peeking out the hotel window(TBPeek1,2), to make sure I hadn't left him.

Once we got home, everyone was overjoyed. Even Blackie and Molly missed Teddy Bear. And so, we have three American Eskimos now. He has not gotten over his issue with strangers, but he is fine with us. And he is still a rambunctious puppy with manners only when he wants to display them. He is a major pain to every member of our household, yet so darn appreciative. He gives us licks and kisses all the time, as if to say "Thank you - not only for saving my life, but by allowing me to be a part of your family."

And, lemme tell ya, he is a beloved part of the family, especially loved by Daddy. He is Daddy's Baby Bear. Molly and Blackie are Mommy's babies, but the Baby Bear is Daddy's little boy. Teddy Bear even allows Jimmy to share space with him inside his sacred crate-- no one is allowed near the crate except his Daddy!

Teddy Bear's most recent nickname came from Jimmy's goddaughter Brittany who heard Jimmy call Teddy Bear Grungy Bear after a muddy wrestling match with Blackie. Brittany laughed and said "He's not a Crunchy Bear, he's a Teddy Bear!" So Crunchy Bear has been added to the list. To this day he has not regrown the beautiful coat he blew during the trauma of Miami incident. He still trembles whenever we go in the car, clings to me whenever another foster dog comes into our house, and greets us after twenty seconds of separation like it's been a lifetime. I'm convinced he still thinks we're going to give him up. It doesn't help that Jimmy enjoys tormenting the poor boy by threatening--whenever Teddy Bear misbehaves-- "That's it - you're going - We're finding you another home. You're outta here!" But I know he's full of it - he loves snuggling with his Snuggle Bunny.

--Audra Eckes