A Chinese Family Adopted a Dog, Then Realized This
When Su Yun brought home her dog, a Tibetan Mastiff, she knew it was going to be a big dog, because that breed is not on the chihuahua side of the dog size scale. Still, when this pup just kept growing, she knew something was unusual. At a whopping size of 3 feet tall and 250 pounds, her beloved canine captivated a large audience, which included National Geographic. The reason why this four-legged friend was just so huge is definitely unexpected.
A deserved vacation trip was planned by Su Yun’s mother. They lived in Kunming City in the Yunnan Province, China, at the time. They were so excited to take this trip as a family, and what they would be bringing back with them was a new family member.
They had planned to make some wonderful memories as a family and let loose because it had been a while since her mother had some time off. During their travels, they came across this adorable fur ball for sale. It was a “Tibetan mastiff,” according to the seller.
Su Yun had already fallen in love with the brown-eyed puppy when the seller was explaining that a mastiff is a large breed of dog. They adopted the dog right on the spot, and the whole family was in agreement that this was the best vacation they would ever have.
They talked for a long time in the car about what they were going to name their new puppy. No one could agree. When taking more loving looks at their new baby, they decided on a name that translates to “Little Black” in English.
Tibetan mastiffs are known to be huge dogs. They average out to be around 82 kilograms or 180 pounds and stand almost a meter tall. In comparing their breed personality to a Labrador retriever, mastiffs are a bit lazier and not nearly as friendly.
They have incredibly long and thick hair and tend to be quite drooly. What makes mastiffs so sought after is that they are quite easy to raise. They don’t need to go to the vet as much as some other dogs, and even though they shed, compared to a Labrador, they don’t shed quite as much.
When Su Yun’s family came home with Little Black, they fought over who got to carry him in. They were all so excited to love on the new little guy. After showing Little Black around the house, they fitted him for his new collar and leash and fed him some puppy chow.
He was so cute. Su Yun was so glad that she got to convince her parents to let her keep Little Black in the house. It was either that or he would have to stay in the backyard.
He Loved to Eat
The family began to realize just how much this dog ate. This was the first dog they ever had, and they didn’t think much of it at the time. He would go through all of his puppy chow, and then he would eat two huge packages of noodles too! His diet wasn’t necessarily the diet of your average dog, but this being their first dog, they thought it would be okay.
Regardless, Little Black was growing and growing. They were happy to see their new puppy grow to be big and healthy.
That’s Not Normal
After a while, when Little Black just kept growing, Su Yun and her family became suspicious about the kind of dog Little Black really was. One day, she came home and was about to feed the dog, and Little Black stood up on two legs. She knew that sometimes dogs would beg and stand on their back legs, but the way Little Black was doing this was especially curious because he would walk around.
Su Yun knew something was not right and began questioning if he really was a Tibetan mastiff.
In the beginning, it would have been cute to have friends over to show off Su Yun’s new puppy. He was big for a puppy but had a personality like most other puppies. Little Black was so cuddly and probably enjoyed playing just like any other Tibetan mastiff puppy would. This sweet, always hungry puppy got even hungrier as time went on, and Su Yun and all her friends and family thought the amount he would eat was so cute.
With all that food came a bunch of growth too, and they would never have suspected what the truth about Little Black was.
The Strange Diet Changes
As Little Black got older, he stopped eating puppy chow altogether, and the only way Su Yun’s family could get him to eat is if they fed him noodles and fruit. That’s right, fruit! They had asked around, and fruit can actually make some dogs sick if they eat too much of it, but Little Black would consume enormous amounts of it and would not touch dog food.
After two years on this strange diet, Little Black became so big that Su Yun was even afraid to walk him because he would become a bit aggressive, and he was way too big to handle.
Love Is Blind
Although Su Yun loved Little Black so much, some particular features about him were now becoming a concern. Not only did he stand up on two legs instead of four like an average dog, but he wouldn’t eat the same food as a healthy dog and was a bit bigger than expected. His teeth were so big that it was scary trying to play with him.
The only thing they could consider was that maybe this Tibetan mastiff wasn’t a Tibetan mastiff at all. They didn’t want to admit this about their beloved dog.
Not Like Other Dogs
At first, these abnormalities seemed like a cool thing to the family. When other people would talk about their big dogs, Su Yun proudly brought up her own dog because she knew he was the biggest. When she brought that up, she would love shocking people with his strange diet. However, at this point, Su Yun and her family had to start keeping (not so) Little Black in the back yard, because he was much too big to remain in the house.
They would visit him as much as they could, but deep down, they were a bit scared of Little Black.
No More Frequent Visitors
Su Yun and her family would do their best to go outside and visit Little Black in the yard as much as possible. They knew that dogs were a lot of work, but because their dog got so big and started acting so strange, they were a bit afraid to play with Little Black as much as they did when he was just a small puppy, which wasn’t so long ago.
When they would go outside to spend time with Little Black, he started to act more and more strangely.
Instead of barking like all of the other normal dogs, Little Black would make these roaring sounds that everyone found extremely out of character for a typical dog. Along with this, some of his facial features didn’t look like a Tibetan mastiff at all. His nose became more pronounced. For all of these reasons, the family was rightfully off-put by their once tiny new puppy.
Day by day, the family began to realize that their dog wasn’t even a dog at all…and it gradually took time for them to understand what Little Black truly was.
How Could This Be?
After some contemplating and asking around, they couldn’t believe that when they went on that vacation two years ago, they adopted not a Tibetan mastiff, but a bear! Two years of taking care of Little Black and loving him as if he was a part of the family. What were they supposed to do? Su knew that having a bear for a pet was a safety hazard for her family; bears are wild animals.
What about the man that sold them the “puppy?” What was wrong with him? All Su knew was that she needed to contact local experts soon.
Su Yun’s Pet Bear
Well, this is definitely a story Su Yun would be telling all her friends. Her sweet puppy that just two years ago was this little fluffy cuddle bug turned out to be a wild animal, and a bear at that. She was scared of bears, and it turns out she had been raising one for the past two years.
It was a bit embarrassing to Su Yun that she had made such a colossal mistake, but it wasn’t just her that had made it. Her whole family was tricked too, but by whom? The seller from their vacation two years ago. How did he get a bear?
The Black Market
When thinking about where they had adopted Little Black, they were curious to know if the seller knew it was a puppy or if he really knew what Little Black indeed was a bear. Maybe the authorities would know, but thinking back on it, why would someone just be randomly selling a dog that is actually a bear in the middle of town?
When the authorities arrived, Su was sure they would have more questions for her, but she had some problems of her own that she needed answers to.
Their Story Went Viral
In the meantime, Su Yun kept Little Black well-fed while trying to figure out what the next step was, despite how much she loved her pet. When they realized Little Black was, in fact, a bear, this sparked tons of attention, including from National Geographic, which clarified that this sort of thing happens more often than some would believe, even though it sounds crazy that someone could mistake a bear for a dog.
They even went further to say that some people use this as an excuse, so they don’t get in trouble for having a wild animal as a pet.
Having a Bear as a Pet
In the beginning, having a bear as a pet when it’s a cub wouldn’t be too dangerous. Obviously, they can pass off as a pet dog and act like it also. Does the problem lie with what happens when the bear grows up? That’s when it becomes dangerous. The immediate problem is that bears can be aggressive, although that does not mean they are aggressive creatures by nature.
When in the wild, bears are usually very docile for the most part, but they have not been bred for years to make them suitable for pets through domestication.
What Was Little Black Thinking?
When Little Black became more massive and started standing on his hind legs, it is safe to say that what he was trying to do, like all other bears, was figuring out what he was looking at. So, when Su came outside to feed him, he was examining who he was looking at. It is much easier for bears to identify things on two legs instead of on all four.
Luckily, Little Black didn’t harm Su Yun or her family, but it’s good that he was identified when he was, because the way to approach bears is entirely different than how you would approach your family dog.
What to Do
Unfortunately, Su Yun didn’t know what to do in the case that she was caught off guard (or so was the black bear she saw), because she thought it was just her dog. Still, if she had seen him in the wild, the way to approach him would have been completely different. The way to approach black bears is also different than how you would approach a grizzly bear.
With a bear-like Little Black, you would want to get as big as possible and make tons of noise. With a grizzly, you would get as small and quiet as possible and try to back away slowly.
Rescued by Authorities
Unaware that it was even illegal to domesticate wild animals, Su was shocked when authorities came by and informed her that Little Black was, in fact, a bear and that it was illegal to keep him. When speaking to Yiliang County Forest Public Security Bureau, they were quick to come by Su Yun’s house to see the bear.
When they arrived, they quickly took proper procedures to take care of Little Black. Su Yun told them that she was actually afraid of bears and genuinely thought that Little Black was a Tibetan mastiff.
Little Black: Healthy and Famous
Little Black turned out to be identified by authorities as an Asiatic Black Bear. When the police arrived, he was eating his fruit and vegetables like everything was normal, and authorities were happy to say that although this is not where he should be living, Su Yun and her family did an excellent job of feeding him enough, because he did appear to be healthy.
Because of the family’s cluelessness as to what they had been raising, it brought worldwide attention to their story, including news reporters from National Geographic, People Magazine, and Business Insider.
Asiatic Black Bear
Asiatic Black Bears are also known as moon bears, Tibetan bears, or Himalayan bears. They are known to be pretty cautious bears but are also known to be more aggressive than the brown bear. They are omnivorous, meaning they eat both meat and greens alike. The best way to tell them apart from your average black bear is the crescent moon shape on their chest.
They are mostly seen in Japan, Korea, China, and Singapore, and sadly, their organs are often used for medicinal purposes despite the fact that they are endangered.
The Origin of Little Black
After learning about Asiatic Bears and the discovery that this was the type of animal Su had adopted instead of a Tibetan mastiff, she couldn’t help but think about the seller that sold him to her family. As it turns out, Little Black most likely came from a “bear farm.” A lot of these bear farms have been discovered throughout China so that people can obtain the medicinal organs from these bears.
Although Su’s back yard wasn’t the best place for Little Black, she was glad to know that he was somewhere that he was loved instead of a bear farm.
An Honest Mistake
Su Yun was so embarrassed that she made the mistake of thinking that her Tibetan Mastiff was a dog for so long before she found out that he was a bear. For two years, she believed she owned a huge dog, and it wasn’t until he was fully grown that she realized that he was a wild animal.
Su found some comfort in knowing that this was not the first time and probably wouldn’t be the last time someone made this mistake. Because of how tiny these bears are as cubs, they really do look just like a Tibetan mastiff puppy.
How Could This Happen?
One would think that it would be pretty hard to mistake a bear for a dog considering the significant size and personality difference. The founder of Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation in San Antonio mentions, “Young wild animals have a different look and smell to them compared to domesticated pets. Wild animals will be more scared and anxious in unfamiliar environments with humans than their domesticated counterparts might be.”
Because of this, there are many people that are skeptical that this mistake is anything less than a cover-up so that people don’t get in trouble for owning wild animals.
In San Antonio, a woman eventually came clean about the real reason she had a box of bobcat kittens, even though owning bobcats is strictly illegal. She initially stated that she had found them in an alleyway. When it came out that this was a lie, she was given a criminal citation in the state of Texas.
Although in Su Yun’s case it was a mistake, in other cases, the authorities have to be very careful, because many people try to own wild animals and then play dumb when they are discovered or realize it’s not so easy or safe to keep them.
Su Yun’s Family Thoughts
Before they called the police, the family thought, “It has already become part of the family, but we know that it is a wild animal, and it should return to nature. Before, we were worried that it might not be able to adapt to the wild environment and survive, so we decided to hand it over to the forest police.
To give Little Black the best chance of a happy and healthy life, and before any harm came to their family, they called the police to see what the next step would be for Little Black.
After the authorities checked on Little Black, they were curious to find out just how much Little Black weighed. They found out that he weighed over 200 kilograms or over 440 pounds and stood over a meter tall. This made Little Black’s name a bit ironic; he wasn’t even close to being little.
After making sure Little Black was not injured or sick, they tranquilized him so they could transport him safely to the Yunnan Wildlife Rescue Center to take further action and examination. Su Yun was glad to know that he was in safe hands, but she would miss Little Black.
Su Yun’s Family Misses Him
For a long while, after the authorities came to get Little Black, they admitted, “Although I was a little afraid of the black bear, I have raised him for two years and have feelings. I know that after the black bear, I am afraid that if I am hurt, I will still get together the broth and fruit that he liked as if he were here.”
They miss Little Black, but they were very afraid that each time they brought him food, he might attack. Regardless of this, he was a part of their family for two years.