Anyone who has ever welcomed a dog into their family knows the pure love that a pup will give to the people who care for them.
The story of one senior dog’s last stand is making waves online, after he made the ultimate sacrifice to save his owner and the rest of their pack.
Pete was a 14-year-old English Setter. He was owned by Stephen Parisi and Cathi Henn, a married couple who run a small dog walking and pet sitting company in Greenwood Lake, New York called Me & My Shadow Pet Sitting.
The senior dog was a hunting dog in Ohio until he became too old for that life, according to the BBC.
At that point, he was fostered (and then adopted) by Cathi and Stephen, with whom he lived for 18 months.
One Sunday, Pete and Stephen (along with the other dogs the company was caring for) encountered a black bear during a hike. It was then that Pete proved himself to be the epitome of man’s best friend.
Scroll through to read all about Pete’s heroic and heartbreaking story.
Photo: Instagram / Me & My Shadow Pets
Stephen and Cathi are the owners of brave Pete.
During a hike on February 11, 2018, Pete, Stephen, and the other dogs in Stephen’s care ran into a black bear in the woods.
“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. Tragically, Pete lost his life bravely fending off the bear while the others escaped.
In an emotional Instagram tribute, Cathi and Stephen explained what happened, writing:
Today we lost our brave, old man Pete.
The dogs surprised a black bear just off the trail while we were hiking this morning.
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.
Once I was sure they were safe, I went back and scared the bear off, but Pete was gravely injured.
I was able to get him back down to the main trail and, thanks to Cathi and Kate, we were able to get him in a car and to the hospital pretty quickly. He held on like a real trooper the whole time, and he was never alone in his pain.
The x-rays revealed some pretty bad spinal damage that would mean he could never walk again, if he survived all the surgeries (not a certain thing at his age).
We decided it was best to let him go this afternoon.
Run free Pete, you no longer have all those aches and pains of old age. You had a great 18 months with us running the days away like you loved.
Please light a candle for Pete and remember that fostering and rescuing a dog can sometimes save you. Senior dogs have so much to give.
Love you Petey.
Save me some cheese for when we see each other again.
“Thanks to everyone who [has] offered their condolences, I didn’t expect anything like this. We were just upset about our dog. We are just devastated. All this love for Pete is great, but we’d happily trade it for just one more day with him,” Cathi told the BBC.
“Pete loved to be the center of attention, he would have loved all this. Older dogs can give so much love. Pete turned out to be our hero, too.”
Don’t forget to SHARE this story in honor of Pete’s life and legacy!