WASILLA - He survived a machete attack and even saved one woman's life, but Bear, the 160-pound mastiff-mix, cited as a hero by a national organization, couldn't beat cancer.
He was 10 years old.
Elann Moren said late Friday morning that she had just gotten back from putting Bear down. She said he'd been in pain for the past three days, unable to keep food or water down. Veterinarians told her the dog had a cantaloupe-sized tumor in his abdomen. So Moren made the decision Friday morning that it was best Bear be put to sleep.
Bear came to Christopher Erin Rogers Sr. as a puppy. He went everywhere with his master. When Rogers met Moren, Bear accepted her into the family, Moren says, as the alpha female.
In December 2007, Rogers' son, Christopher Erin Rogers Jr., attacked Rogers and Moren with a machete while the couple slept in their Palmer home. Rogers Sr. died in the attack. Moren was grievously wounded, but she credits Bear with saving her life.
The American Humane Society named him the most heroic dog in Alaska and second most heroic in the country, last year. In an interview at the time, Moren described how Bear helped her that night.
As she was in the bathroom, her fiancee's son standing over her, she told her attacker to leave, that he'd done his work. And then she noticed Bear pulling on Rogers Jr.'s leg, dragging him out of the bathroom. She said she believes Bear chased Rogers to a pickup and kept him inside. She thinks Bear spared her neighbors a fate similar to her fiance's.
Bear didn't escape unharmed. A whack from the machete wounded his mouth and one of his teeth.
Rogers was later convicted on murder, attempted murder and animal cruelty charges in Palmer. After the machete attack, police said Rogers went to Anchorage and continued his rampage, this time with a gun. In a separate trial, in Anchorage, he was convicted of shooting three people, killing one. He is currently incarcerated, awaiting sentencing.
Since the attack, Bear had been living in the Valley with relatives while Moren lived in Anchorage to be closer to the hospitals where she's had numerous surgeries. Moren said she still doesn't have full use of her right hand, but otherwise she's doing great.
"I'm doing very well, I'm still blessed and highly favored," she said. "I'm able to dance, I'm able to drive. I have no complaints."
This summer, she said, she moved to Palmer to live with relatives and be closer to Bear. Despite having lived apart for more than a year, she and Bear stepped right back into their old roles.
"It was weird when I came back ... just immediately, I was the alpha female," Moren said. "He ... always kept watch, wouldn't leave my side when I was there."
She said she was grateful that Bear was able to thoroughly enjoy his last weekend. He participated in the Colony Days Parade. He received yet another honor. And he got lots of love and lots of doggie treats.
"A lot of attention. He liked that," she said. "Ear rubs. A lot of ear rubs."
And she was grateful to the veterinarians at North Star Animal Hospital.
"He got the best care he possibly could have gotten," she said.
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