Dog goes from Glenwood Canyon to animal shelter |

Dog goes from Glenwood Canyon to animal shelter

Pete Fowler
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Chad Spangler/Post IndependentBear is still at the Colorado Animal Rescue shelter awaiting adoption. She was owned by a well-known local man who loved animals but died Nov. 2.

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado ” If Gerald McKeel were alive today, he probably would have wanted someone to adopt his dog, Bear.

McKeel died at age 69 of natural causes on Nov. 2. His presence was fairly well-known among the rafting community. He lived a private life in a home with no running water, electricity or telephone service. His house could only be reached by walking the railroad tracks from Glenwood Springs or by pedaling a car suspended on a cable over the Colorado River.

Some raft guides would tell tall tales about Gerald, a big and tall man who would often sit out on the property, visible to people floating by on the river. One raft guide said losing McKeel from the Colorado River was almost like losing the Statue of Liberty for visitors to New York. The guide said there are many people who may not have known McKeel personally but will miss him anyhow.

McKeel, an animal lover, wrote a note before he died with instructions about his dog. The apparently unfinished note said that Bear was there on the property, that she’s not dangerous and would go with whoever finds her, said Tracey Yajko, a Colorado Animal Rescue shelter (CARE) behavior and training manager.

Yajko said CARE was told about the note by an animal control officer. The officer couldn’t be reached Thursday.

McKeel’s daughter-in-law, Erin McKeel, said, “We know that he did care about animals a lot and obviously he must have been worried about what would happen. … That’s why we had asked in his obituary for donations to ASPCA.”

ASPCA stands for American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

She said Gerald used to take in strays wandering the railroad tracks and feed them, and he would often take care of several dogs at a time. She said she and her husband Joe couldn’t bring Bear back to Washington because they live in military housing.

Bear has been at CARE since Nov. 2 awaiting adoption. She’s a shepherd mix, possibly shepherd and golden retriever. She’s a tan color with kind of a pointy snout and a little gray on her muzzle. She’s thought to be around 6 to 8 years old.

“We call her Bearallina,” Yajko said. “She kind of dances with her front feet when she’s excited. She’ll just kind of hop around, pick one of her front feet up at different times like she’s dancing.”

Bear is a little bit timid but sweet. She seems to prefer men but would probably be happy with any adopter willing to offer a little patience. She’s great with kids, other dogs and gets along with cats.

“She’s definitely a little bit timid about new situations, and I think that’s given that she probably lived a fairly isolated life, but she loves to interact with people,” Yajko said. “She’s coming out of her shell. … She’s just a lover.”

CARE hopes someone will adopt Bear and give her a good home.

“(McKeel) was her soul-mate so to speak, and she was his probably as well,” Yajko said. “We just thought that maybe somebody would feel a little empathy that she lost her one and only caretaker.”

Contact Pete Fowler: 384-9121

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