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My Favourite Toy Essay Teddy Bear Dogs

Updated: 12/29/15, 3:40 p.m. 

A 1-year-old dog who was photographed cowering beside his favorite teddy bear after being surrendered to a high intake animal shelter this past fall is getting closer to finding a forever home.

One day after the heartbreaking photo was posted on an animal welfare group's Facebook page, a foster group swooped in to care for the dog named Needy -- possibly saving him from a looming expiration date at the packed shelter.

"He's been there the longest and the whole teddy bear thing just killed us," Erica Brown, founder of Diamonds in the Ruff, told The Huffington Post of their decision to take him in on Tuesday. 

Brown's group posted photos on Facebook of the pup getting to know his new handlers while leaving Philadelphia's Animal Care and Control Team.

They also shared that they've changed his name to Fozzie Bear, in memory of their late rescue dog named Kermit -- with Fozzie Bear being Kermit the Frog's best friend.

"He was a little bit scared in the beginning but he started opening up," Brown said. "He sat and gave me both paws. I think he's really going to open up and be really sweet."

Since announcing his rescue, Brown said their group has already received a few emails inquiring about adopting him. 

First things first, she said, is getting him neutered and seeing how well he adapts and does with their other dogs.

"It could be a week or two, or a month. You never know," she said of the adoption process. "Whoever has the best home, for his needs and for theirs, will go to them."

Since the rescue group opened in March of 2014, Brown says they've saved at least 289 dogs. They are currently caring for 15 dogs but typically have between 15 and 25.

"There are some dogs we've had for years and some we've had for a day or two," she said.

Jennifer Berwick, assistant director of operations at Animal Care and Control Team of Philadelphia, called the pup's rescue a step in the right direction -- one she hopes to see for the hundreds of other cats and dogs crowding ACCT Philly.

Since its operation started in 2012, ACCT Philly has taken in about 28,000 animals a year with approximately 80 percent of them going on to find a new home, Berwick told HuffPost. That astounding success rate is the largest for any organization in the state of Pennsylvania. 

Some animals like Fozzie Bear stay for three months, others for only an hour. As for what determines whether or not they’ll live to see another day outside the shelter's walls, Berwick said it depends on the animals’ “behavior, health and space.”

For some animals, their health declines almost as soon as they step into the shelter.

It can take only a couple hours before "their behavior has changed from the stress of the environment," Berwick said. “It’s a foreign environment. It’s such a shock to their system.”

When Fozzie Bear arrived in November, he was left with his beloved teddy bear and a note from his past owner that blamed his release on his “bite history.”

According to the note, it was while someone was arguing or fighting in the house that the pooch bit someone, Berwick said.

"It wasn't serious," she said of the bite. "They just said that he's a good dog as long as there is no roughhousing or arguing."

He’s otherwise described as sweet-natured and a volunteer favorite, who knows basic commands like sit, high-five and down. He also gets along well with other dogs, Berwick said.

Sadly, his comfort teddy bear seen in the photo was taken away from him shortly after he arrived because it wasn’t one of the “approved toys,” Berwick said.

"We don't normally allow dogs to have things like that here. We can't monitor them like you can at home,” she said, while suggesting that the animals could choke on the buttons or other parts.

Some of the many cats and dogs available for adoption at Philadelphia's ACCT can be seen here on its website: AcctPhilly.org. Donations to help fund its efforts can be made here.

This post has been updated with information about the foster group that took in Fozzie Bear.

Also on HuffPost:

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Every dog has their go-to toy, and discovering what it is can tell you a lot about your pooch’s personality, breed, and genetic history. What does my dog’s love of repetitive, ear-splitting squeaking say about him? How about the neighbor dog’s obsession with tennis balls, and your pup’s desire to chew sticks? Read on and find out, fellow parents! If you are in the market for some high quality goodies to replace your dog’s played out toys and treats, don’t forget to check out BarkShop!

Squeakers

Pups that gravitate towards squeaky toys are simply following their instinct to hunt. Wild canines must search out and kill their food. During the attack the smaller animal cries out, and the squeak sound during play is reminiscent of this. I certainly don’t think that my 15-pound Poodle Mix is imagining a terrified bunny while gnawing on his yellow Funshine Care Bear, but somewhere in his doggy brain the instinct to pounce and attack is stimulated.

For dogs that take the extra step of shredding their toy and removing the squeaker, be sure to supervise play times. A swallowed squeaker can be a choking hazard or become stuck in the GI tract.

Plushies

Some dogs always seem to have a soft, plush toy like a stuffed animal loosely grasped in their jaws. They march around the house with it, snuggle in bed with it, even lick or suck on it affectionately. Labs and Retrievers are known for carrying plushies as an inherent reminder of their breeds’ talent for recovering duck carcasses for their hunter masters. The goal is to return the bird in good shape, thus the loose, gentle grip of the jaws.

Sleeping with a soft toy and mouthing it affectionately is often seen in dogs taken from their mothers and litter mates before they were entirely weaned. Puppy mill survivors and those orphaned as puppies often act out nursing and litter mate behaviors on their soft toys. Mothers who lost their pups or experience false pregnancies may also treat a plushy as their lost pup. These activities are only problematic if they become obsessive, lead to aggression, or pose a risk of swallowing part of the toy.

Balls

We’ve all known a dog that would gladly chase a thrown tennis ball until they collapsed from exhaustion. This one is pretty simple to decipher – some dogs live for the chase. Pups that feel compelled to dart after a squirrel or leap into the air after a flying bird are acting out their instinct to hunt down a moving target.

Terriers and Shepherds are well known for their energy and love of chase games. This is why these breeds often excel at Fly Ball, Agility, Dock Diving and Frisbee challenges. A vigorous game of fetch is healthy for your dog in almost every way. If your dog is a fetch junkie, be sure to keep him well hydrated and prevent overheating and exhaustion with frequent rests.

Tuggies

Bully breeds like English Bulldogs and Frenchies are known to fancy a good game of tug-o-war. Boston Terriers and Pugs also tend to enjoy tugging. This type of play should be controlled so as not to get out of hand. Be sure to train your tugger to release on your command.

There are two popular theories on the thrill of the tug. The first suggests that grasping and tugging is a throwback to tearing flesh from the carcass of a kill. Wild dogs and wolves hunt in packs. When the prey is taken down, the members tear away meat as quickly as they can before the upper level dogs step in.

The other theory involves the breeding history of Bullies. Historically, stout, muscular dogs with short, powerful jaws were useful in controlling livestock and helping corral animals for hunters. They would bite down and hold until commanded to release. Tugging games are reminiscent of these struggles. But, as I’m sure you’ve noticed, all dogs love a good game of tug from time to time!

Cognitive Toys

Pups that love to solve a good puzzle are probably only after one thing: Treats! Sure, they’re brainy and determined types, but let’s not forget what the reward at the end of the game is. Cognitive toys are great for refocusing nervous or nosy dogs when you have to leave the house or do not have time to engage them in play personally. These toys provide exercise, mental stimulation, and distraction – all with a much earned prize at the end! No wonder smart pups love these toys!

Bones

Undomesticated dogs fending for themselves chew through the bones of prey in order to consume the delicious, fatty bone marrow. Bone chewing also helps keep the teeth and gums clean and healthy. Domestic chewers instinctively enjoy a vigorous gnaw session. Most dogs’ diets consist of kibble or canned food. The desire to put their powerful jaws to work is quite normal, and bones are a tasty alternative to your furniture!

Be sure to consult your veterinarian before giving any kind of natural bone to your dog – raw or cooked. Too much fat or bone shards could be hazardous. Synthetic chew bones like BeneBones are a safe and tasty alternative.

Nature

Dogs investigate the world with their mouths. It is common for puppies, and even adult dogs to examine fascinating outdoor goodies like pine cones, rocks, sticks, bugs and grass by picking them up in their mouths. Sticks may be reminiscent of the shape and texture of bone – which we know they love to chew. A nice round rock may remind them of a ball.

There is cause for concern if your dog’s favorite means of play is exploring nature with his mouth. Sticks and rocks can injure the teeth and soft tissue of the mouth, cause choking, or pose risks to the digestive tract. Dogs that swallow dirt and grass may ingest parasites or pesticides. It is best to redirect these pups to more appropriate toys.

You

As far as your dog’s concerned, you hung the moon. Their true favorite toy is the one they get to play with with you. Without question, dogs live for every moment of undivided attention they can get from us. Spare a few minutes every day to go outside and throw the ball, or get down on the floor and play with a favorite plushy. Encouraging healthy play behavior ensures a happy dog, strengthens your bond, and helps precocious pups avoid mischief.

Featured Image via Dina Fantegrossi

Featured image via @Charlie.And.Maggie/Instagram

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