By Bonnie Culverhouse
Six long months have passed since The Great Escape. It was early June … a time the Lance and Rachel Streetman family won’t soon forget.
Bear, a 60-pound Australian Shepherd/Heeler mix, somehow found his way out of his kennel while 16-year-old Alyssa Streetman was taking him to the vet because of a bad tooth. It’s amazing what some will do to avoid dental work.
“We don’t know how he squeezed out of that little opening – it was about a four-inch gap – and jumped out of the back of the truck,” Rachel Streetman said.
When Alyssa got to the vet clinic, no Bear.
Over the course of six months, there were many Bear sightings – mostly in the Homer Road area.
“He was seen in the creek behind Wendy’s, the carwash, across the road near Meadowview, behind CVS, heading toward the pasture area owned by (James) Madden,” Rachel said. “Since we live in the country, I think pastures and cows looked familiar to him. Maybe he felt safe there.”
People in the community – and some just visiting – would contact the Streetmans when they saw Bear.
Rachel even “Facetimed” with a friend who was on Old Arcadia Road.
“She said, ‘Rachel, I am looking at your dog,’” Rachel said. “It was him.” Bear even responded to Rachel’s voice, but then, he took off.
The friend followed Bear from Old Arcadia Road, down Homer Road where he stopped at a credit union to take a loan from a water puddle. The friend lost him in a pasture area behind Minden Seafood.
One of the hardest parts of Bear’s disappearance was being unable to see him.
“We knew he was still alive because we were getting messages from wonderful people,” she said. “But we didn’t get to see him.”
And thanks to social media, Bear soon became a celebrity.
“The lady at the convenience store said, ‘oh, you’re Bear’s mama,’” she laughed.
But there was a stretch when the Streetmans began to lose hope.
“Nobody had seen him, but then people started posting about him again,” Rachel said.
Even though the family lives 10 miles away, they made daily visits to town over those six months, “making a Bear run.” When August came, Rachel and her son, 10-year-old Dakota would drive around looking for Bear before school started in the mornings. Then 17-year-old Riley, Alyssa and Dakota would “set up” by the car wash on Homer Road and watch for Bear while calling his name.
The evasive pup was apparently hiding or sleeping during the day and coming out at night around 9 or 10 o’clock. They could never get close enough to make eye contact with him, but they continued to leave dog food in places where Bear was seen.
Things finally took a positive turn last week when a woman who lives on Madison contacted Rachel with a Bear sighting. After a few days of attempting to catch him in her neighbor’s backyard, the Streetman’s “angel” was able to close the gate and trap him.
A week ago today, Wednesday, December 8, Rachel received a text saying Bear was in the yard and the gate was closed, ending the Bear run.
Rachel called Riley, who was on break from school, and he hurried over to the house. She met him there.
“When I got there, Riley was on the ground, coaxing Bear out from under a trampoline,” Rachel said. “He came out and we scooped him up, shoved Riley and Bear in the backseat of his truck and took them both home.”
When Rachel picked up Dakota from school that afternoon, she said he was holding his breath, waiting to hear the news.
“He asked ‘we got Bear?’ And I said yes, and he just started crying,” said Rachel, her eyes welling with tears as she described it. “When we got home, Bear was making noises almost like he was crying. He was so happy to be home.”
But perhaps Dakota summed it up best when he said, “This is our Christmas miracle!”
So Bear is home for Christmas. He’s with his family, other dogs, a cat, chickens, horses and cows.
He still hasn’t made it to the vet to have his tooth fixed, but that’s next on the list, according to his mama. He probably doesn’t realize how blessed he is to have such a loving family, but he will find out when all of them escort him to the vet to ensure there is not another Great Escape.
Merry Christmas, Bear! And Merry Christmas, Streetman family.