Pete, a 14-year-old English Setter, spent many years working as a hunting dog. Once he became a senior, though, he couldn’t keep up with that lifestyle. So, the gray-haired pup had to find a forever home.
His new foster parents, Stephen Parisi and Cathi Henn, were a married couple that ran a dog walking and pet sitting business. It didn’t take long for them to fall in love with Pete and they adopted him.
He became part of the family right away and was a loyal member of the pack for 18 whole months. But then, tragedy struck.Pete was on a group hike with his dad and other pups on February 11, 2018, at Monksville Reservoir in New Jersey. Disaster struck when the pack ran into a black bear on the path.
“The bear’s only exit was a 180-degree turn and the bear was never going to turn its back on something that it was scared of, so it came for Stephen and the dogs,” Cathi explained to the BBC. Encountering dangerous wildlife can happen on hikes, no matter where you live or who you have with you. Luckily, Pete wasn’t going to let the bear hurt anyone he loved.
“It must not have heard or smelled us with the pouring rain. It felt threatened and turned around. Pete stepped up and held off the bear until I could get the other dogs to safety,” said Stephen in an Instagram story.Once Stephen knew the other dogs were safe, he ran back and scared the bear off…but the old pup was severely injured in the fight.
His back was broken and had other severe injuries from the black bear. Stephen couldn’t carry Pete to the car, so he wrapped him in a waterproof jacket and gently pulled him along the ground by the hood. The car was over a mile away and the bear could have still been close by, excited by the smell of blood. Pete bravely held on as his owner painstakingly got him to the car and rushed him to the hospital.
X-rays revealed that he had severe spinal damage and may never walk again – and that was if he would be able to survive the surgeries needed to save his life.“Senior dogs have so much to give. Love you Petey. Save me some cheese for when we see each other again.”