A bear and a dog: The unlikely friendship of Sissy and Lobo

The Arnold family built The Fort as their home, and it’s where they raised their family, including two four-legged best friends. For now-proprietress Holly Arnold, The Fort was the backdrop to a childhood filled with wonderful experiences—including growing up with Lobo, the German Shepherd, and his best friend, Sissy, an American black bear.Sissy Bear and Lobo

Lobo found his way to the Arnolds after a life of abuse—or rather, they found him! While living in Denver during the construction of The Fort, Sam Arnold drove past two boys dragging a wounded, weak dog through the streets. Sam pulled over, and offered the boys a whopping $20 for the dog. Believe it or not, that was a hefty amount in the early ‘60s. From then on, Lobo was a part of the family.

How did a black bear make her way into the Arnold family, and to Lobo’s heart? Sissy Bear was turned over to the Denver Zoo after being abused and neglected. Declawed by her abusers, the bear was unable to live with others at the zoo. A family of animal lovers, the Arnolds couldn’t resist the gentle, sweet bear, and agreed to adopt her from the zoo. The family received a zoo license, and brought Sissy to The Fort. Tuffy, a family friend and an experienced animal trainer, worked with the Arnolds to teach them to care for and train Sissy. In no time at all, Sissy Bear was a part of The Fort, and the family. With a real cave and a safe enclosure of her own in the courtyard, Sissy thrived.


Naturally, there were apprehensions about introducing a black bear to a German Shepherd, but as soon as the animals met, they were inseparable. Both young and energetic, Lobo and Sissy played like children. They wrestled and chased each other around the courtyard, ate together, and even slept together. Guests were amazed by the unlikely friendship, and the Arnolds were, too. Holly believes the animals were kindred, and understood the difficult lives each other had before finding joy at The Fort.

Decades later, Lobo and Sissy Bear live on through their cherished legacies, bound by the unlikely paths that led them to The Fort.

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