Harlan the polar bear of Mizzou

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COLUMBIA-For the past four years Chris Woods has made MU's Speaker’s Circle part of his daily routine. He and his Great Pyrenees Harlan have a regular route they walk every morning.

“I’m already out walking the dog anyway, so I cut through and it just makes everybody really happy,” Woods said.

Students know Harlan the polar bear of Mizzou well. Many stop by for a photo, quick pet or even hug.

“I love getting to stop by and pet him, he’s such a fur ball and so sweet,” MU student Ana Morales said.

Woods said, “With everybody smiling all the time, how can you resist it? It costs me nothing.”

But it’s not just students that recognize Harlan. Employees at Lily’s Cantina, a food truck parked nearby, all come out to greet the dog. They sometimes bring him a snack from their truck.

Woods said he took Harlan out walking during a local festival a few weeks ago and he got recognized by many who wanted pictures. Woods even set up a Facebook page.

Originally, Woods had two dogs, Harry and Harlan, and everyday he took them both on a walk around town. But last year Harry got bone cancer and died.

“Now it’s just me and Harlan, he’s been coming here since he was a pup and we don’t plan to stop anytime soon” Woods said.

Woods and Harlan are also regulars at the dog park in the Garth Nature Area. Harlen can be spotted in the evenings, sitting on top of a picnic table, watching other dogs play and occassionally letting out a deep, bellowing bark. He stoically allows children to ruffle his fur and give him hugs.

Woods says he and Harlan often stay out past dark. Between the park and Speaker's Circle, Harlan gets hours of attention throughout the day.