A stray dog who was given months to live receives the best gift from the woman who saved him.

Bear’s beaming smile can light up any room he walks into. But despite the former stray’s infectious personality and unwavering faith in humanity, you’d never know what he’s been through, because he never lost hope that, eventually, things would go his way.

This is exactly why This Is Houston cofounder Laura Forma took Bear in, after the dog he’d spent eight years on the streets.

A happy dog smiles for the camera.

“We found Bear, but he was very afraid of us,” Forma told The Dodo. “As we tried to capture him, someone pointed out a house to which Bear belonged to, [so] we went to speak with that resident. She’d been feeding him for 8 years.”

As Forma and her team approached, they could see a huge mass on Bear’s face. It soon became clear that Bear needed immediate medical attention.

“He wouldn’t have made it another day on his own,” Forma said. “The mass weighed three and a half pounds when it was surgically removed. It’s sad to think he had to lug that thing around for so long.”

A happy dog smiles for the camera.

The mass wasn’t Bear’s only issue, either. A thorough series of exams showed he had heartworm disease, heart failure, lymphoma and carcinoma. The veterinarian gave Bear between three and 12 months to live — but since Bear had only just discovered love and kindness, he had plans to stick around.

“He goes to the vet weekly, [and] we’re happy to report that he’s been in remission for a couple months now,” Forma said. “As of today, there are no signs of cancer. He’s doing great!”

A dog wearing a bandana smiles at the camera.

Bear will have ongoing care for his other ailments, but Forma said you can’t tell what he’s gone through by looking at him.

“He’s rainbows and sunshine,” Forma said. “He’ll wake up pacing around the house with a smile, and woofing at us. He starts every day off being happy.”

A dog smiles at the camera.

Bear’s personality warmed Forma’s heart so much that she and partner, Tom, have chosen to make him a permanent member of their family. Now, the once-lonely dog gets to go on all the car rides (his favorite) and have all the love and snuggles he could ever ask for.

“It’s crazy to think this perfect boy was a street dog all of his life,” Forma said. “He’s a constant reminder that life goes on and life can get better. To go through all that he went through and to still be happy today, that is so many life lessons right there. He gives us purpose.”

A happy dog looks into the camera with a smile.

Even though Bear is in remission, Forma makes sure she cherishes every last second with him.

“[He has] brought so much joy,” Forma said. “He exuberates life and happiness. It’s nearly impossible to be around him, or even look at him and not smile. When he’s not there, you can just feel that something is missing. He makes us want to spend our days giving him all the opportunities to experience the joys of life while he still can.”

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