GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — The owner of a 20-year-old Lab Chow mix named Bear believes her dog may be the oldest in Michigan.
29-year-old Stephanie Fulks has had her dog since she was just 9-years-old. Bear, short for Bearly, is now 20-years-old herself.
The Lab Chow mix loves to greet strangers when going for short walks around her Eastown neighborhood.
Fulks telling FOX 17 Thursday, “They always ask how old she is and I say, take a guess. And they always say 9, 10,12... and I say, think again!”
Back in the distant year of 2000 Fulks' family was living in Atlanta, Georgia.
"I was on my way home from school," Fulks said. "And I open the door and she just has this puppy in her hands. I was like, is this ours? She was like, yep this is Bearly."
Through the years Bear's muzzle became a bit more gray, her tail a little less springy, but through everything the pair have stuck together.
“Back in 2014 we were attacked by another dog. My neighbor's dog jumped through our backyard and attacked Bear so I jumped in and we were both injured on our right arm and had a cast on our right arms.”
Both Bear and her mom were left with matching arm casts for some time afterward.
The pair always went through life together. Suddenly Bear was celebrating 2 decades of being alive.
“She started with a white little beard when she was 10-years-old and then it just gradually became more and more white all around,” Fulks said.
Earlier this week Fulks decided to make a post on Reddit asking if anyone knew if Bear might be the oldest dog in Michigan.
The post got a lot of attention, but no one was able to determine Bear's spot on the list of oldest dogs. According to DinoAnimals.com Bear falls within the top 20 oldest dogs ever recorded.
“That's very unique. That's unbelievable. If they were to get to be 14 or 16 we would say, wow that's awesome. So anything approaching 20 would be unbelievable. It would be equivalent to somebody being over 100 years of age,” said Dr Randall Carpenter of Family Friends Veterinary Hospital.
“It doesn’t happen by accident. It takes a lot of dedication and love and commitment to allow a pet to live that long,” he said.
Stephanie and her boyfriend Roylan make sure to stay on top of Bear's health.
“Aside from sleeping 18 hours of the day, we like to keep her active as much as we can," Fulks said. “I give her salmon oil every day in her food.”
The couple are already planning for Bear's next year of a life well-lived.
“I think next year we’ll get her a little tiara and sash for her 21st birthday,” Roylan said.