Craig strays vie for top dog billing


Bear came so close to becoming a service dog.

Unable to find an owner at the Craig Animal Shelter, the two-year old black lab was shipped to the shelter in Summit County on Wednesday.

Shortly after his arrival, a Freedom Service Dogs staff member met him. The organization trains dogs to help disabled people.

After conducting several temperament tests, the staff member decided Bear might have what it takes to become a service dog.

Alas, Bear failed the aggression tests and was sent back to the shelter in Summit County.

Bear's failure really isn't unusual, Freedom Service Dogs Executive Director Robin Starr said.

"Once out of the shelter, one in 10 makes it all the way," Starr said.

Bear failed because he growled when someone tried to take a pig's ear away from him, and he urinated when someone intimidated him.

Even though Bear failed, that Freedom Service Dogs thought he could be a good candidate to become a service dog will increase his estimation in the shelter's eyes, Starr said.

Still, it's unusual for an impounded Craig dog to even get a shot at being a service dog, said Mary Blakeman of the Moffat County Humane Society.

"It's kind of a rare thing. Bear is the first dog that has been selected for the program," Blakeman said before the news broke that Bear failed the test.

She could only think of one other dog that had been selected for a similar program.

That other dog was Buster. The K9 program at Cañon City's state prison adopted him. There, inmates train dogs to become service dogs. The trained dogs sell for $400.

One other dog, a 1-year-old chocolate lab from Minturn, also tested with Bear. That dog passed his tests and went home with Starr so she could see how well he behaved in her home.

After that, the dog will be run through socialization tests, exposed to traffic and wildlife, and go to about 20 public places. The dog will pass depending on how it reacts, Starr said.

Only after passing all the tests will the dog be admitted into the service dog training program.

Freedom Service Dogs is working to expand its program to train dogs to help disabled people that would not be fully dependent on the dog. They have trained a dog to live with a boy suffering from Down syndrome.

Rob Gebhart can be reached at 824-7031 or

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