Illustration of Bear Cub the rescue dog

A rescue dog named Bear

Our story of adopting a dog from Blue Cross. 

Bear’s bad start

It’s March 2018 when a 10-month-old Pomapoo named Bear arrives at the Blue Cross rehoming centre in Oxford. Bear had spent the first ten months of his life caged, unloved and was in an unimaginable condition. He'd developed muscle atrophy in both back legs from being stuck in a cage for so long and his coat was so matted that moving was painful. He was underweight, malnourished and nervous of humans.

Shaggy rescue dog

Blue Cross to the rescue

Fortunately, thanks to the wonderful team at Blue Cross, Bear quickly received the help he needed. In no time at all, Bear was checked by the vet, put on a healthy balanced diet, groomed, microchipped, neutered, had some dental work done, started physiotherapy for his legs and received a whole bunch of love from the Blue Cross team. Once he was healthy and confident enough, Bear was given a temporary foster home with a wonderful local couple whilst the Blue Cross team got to work finding him a forever home. They created an online profile for Bear on their website and shared the listing on social media for the public to see. That’s where we come in.

Groomed rescue dog

Finding Bear

We’re the Bloom-Mangione family, founders of muthapuppa. We had recently moved back to the UK from Australia with our Cavapoo Alfred and decided to grow our family by adopting a rescue dog. We began our search in May 2018 by contacting rescue centres across the UK and that’s when we came across Bear on the Blue Cross website. He looked adorable and his profile requirements matched our circumstances, so we decided to call, but we were convinced they’d tell us he’d already been adopted. We got through to a lovely member of staff at Blue Cross and it turned out we were wrong. Bear had not yet found a home! You see, Bear’s leg issues had caused him to develop Bilateral Luxating Patellas, which unfortunately put people off adopting him due to potential long-term health issues, as well as increased vet and insurance costs. Not put off by this, we asked to be considered, filled in the online application form and booked an appointment for the following week to chat with the team and meet Bear.

Meeting Bear

One week later, we arrived at Blue Cross Oxford. The first step was to go through some questions and make sure we’d make suitable parents. Nothing too taxing but it was important for everyone to be certain that Bear’s next home would be right for him. We covered everything from Bear’s history, his health issues and our circumstances. It was then time to head outside and meet Bear. At first, he was understandably shy and hesitant, but after a bit of time, and a few treats, he warmed to us. The next step was for Bear and Alfred to spend some time together in the garden area to see how they got on. They hit it off immediately, played really well together and chased each other round the garden. Poor little Bear’s legs kept locking up, so after a few minutes, we said goodbye to him and headed back to the office to discuss next steps. It was at this point we were told that providing all our paperwork was approved, we’d be able to adopt Bear and collect him the following week. We were over the moon. The Blue Cross team then clarified the following as part of the adoption process:

  • Adoption fees: Blue Cross ask everyone to pay an adoption fee. This goes towards some of their costs of caring for dogs and includes things like food, vet checks, vaccinations and neutering. The fee for a 6 to 12-month-old dog like Bear at that time was £180. As of April 2022, this fee is now £300

  • Food: They provide a bag of your dog's current food so that you can gradually introduce new food by mixing them together

  • Insurance: They provide four weeks’ free pet insurance through Petplan to everyone who adopts a dog. They urge you to organise replacement cover as soon as possible and before the free month expires

  • Support: They offer ongoing support and advice from their Behaviour Team for everyone who adopts a dog

  • Change of mind: Finally, if for whatever reason, things don’t work out and you need to give your dog back to Blue Cross (10% of adopted dogs are returned), they ask you to let them know at any point and they’ll take the dog back. They will provide a full refund if you change your mind within 30 days of taking them home

Fully briefed and excited, we headed back home and spent the next few days anxiously waiting for everything to be confirmed. A few days later, Blue Cross got in touch and asked us to send over one final document, a letter from our landlord confirming their permission for us to have dogs in our flat. We sent it over and immediately got the call back to say Bear was officially the newest member of our family. We agreed to collect Bear the following weekend and in the meantime, prepared for his arrival. Here’s a useful list of what we needed to buy and do:

  • Water bowl
  • Food bowl
  • Food 
  • ID tag
  • Lead, collar and harness
  • Bed 
  • 10m long training lead
  • Treats
  • Toys
  • Car seatbelt
  • Blanket 
  • Insurance
  • Register at local vets
  • Book time off work for the first couple of days

Finally, we did plenty of research about bringing home a rescue dog. We found lots of helpful resources on the Blue Cross website and via Google.

Bringing Bear home

The following weekend, we arrived back in Oxford to collect Bear. We completed all the necessary paperwork, purchased a Blue Cross branded lead, collar and harness and made a small separate donation to thank the team for the great work they do. After some happy and emotional goodbyes, we walked Bear to the car, strapped him in safely and started the journey back home. Bear settled straight into our family life and we made sure we did as much as possible to rehabilitate him and get him back to full health. After just 1 week of long lead training in the park, his legs stopped seizing up. After 2 weeks, his recall was so good that he was walking off lead. We even got a couple of friendly check-in phone calls from the team at Blue Cross during the first few weeks, just to see how we were getting on.

Rescue dog in car

From Bear, to Bear Cub

Bear has become the most confident, energetic and curious dog. He’s a character, quite mischievous actually, a real muthapuppa. You’ll be pleased to hear that his legs never seized up again after that first week, and our vets have given him a full clean bill of health ever since. He’s travelled all over the UK, has even lived in Italy for a few months and is now living his best life in London. Oh, and he now goes by the name, Bear Cub.

Bear Cub is the original inspiration behind muthapuppa.

We're on a mission to rescue dogs, learn more about our mission.

Now for some pics of Bear Cub and his big brother Alfred. You’re welcome.