UPDATE: Veteran's dog has surgery after successful GoFundMe
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UPDATE: Limberg told KSTP Tuesday afternoon that Bear was out of surgery and was resting in recovery. He added that the doctor said she was very happy with the results.
In a post on the GoFundMe for Bear, which raised $11,780, Limberg thanked everyone who donated, saying:
"Without all of you, none of this would be possible. There are no words that can possibly describe how humbled and truly grateful I am to all of you for what you have done for us. Whether it was sharing the link, donating, the messages of support, information on aftercare, and all of the other offers to help in any way that you could."
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After serving a year in Basra, Iraq, with the Minnesota Nation Guard's 34th Military Policy Company in 2009, where he lost three comrades, Mark Limberg came home.
"You want to protect your country, you want to protect your family, you want to protect your community, you want to serve them also and when you come home and that is removed, you're lost," Limberg said.
He found his purpose in Bear, his now 10-year-old German shepherd.
"I needed that drive, I needed something to make me get up, make me get out there, make me push myself to do the things that I always wanted to do and he kind of facilitated all of that for me," Limberg said.
The two have been inseparable ever since.
Bear has become a favorite among Limberg's nieces and nephews, too.
"We've grown together, we've definitely learned the ins and outs of each other and he's turned into this just wonderful, sweet, very, very easy going dog that will always be there for me," Limberg said.
But in the last three months, Bear was diagnosed with two bulging discs in his neck and back and Wobbler Syndrome.
"I came in and he was shaking violently in the corner, he had his head down, his legs were all the way down to the floor he was not wanting to be touched," Limberg recalled.
Limberg works full-time and goes to school, and in the last several weeks has had a full list of home repairs ranging from a furnace fix, a backed-up sewer, fridge and laptop replacement and car repairs.
Fortunately, family and friends helped him cover Bear's thousands of dollars in vet expenses and medications.
Then, last week, Bear began to lose control of his bladder and was struggling to use his back legs to even stand up.
Limberg now comes home twice a day to take care of him.
"He doesn't have a quality of life right now, he lives in the kitchen on pee pads and you can tell he feels shame for it," Limberg said.
But he said Bear's personality and spirit are still there.
Surgery to help Bear will cost another $5,000, it's money Limberg just doesn't have right now.
He posted this GoFundMe page, hopeful strangers he once defended overseas will help his companion back here at home.
"I have at least done what I can do for him, I owe him that much, he's been there for me," Limberg said.