There is this special dog by the name of Levi. Levi is a canaan mix boy that has had quite an adventurous life already at age 4.
Levi was a stray on the streets of San Antonio, when he was picked up by animal control and transported to the high kill city shelter. He awaited his fate, and was thankfully pulled to safety by the rescue that I am with, SA R.O.C.K.S.
He went into foster care, where we learned that he wasn’t a fan of other dogs. He was dog reactive, not aggressive. There is a difference, though a fine line between the two.
Honestly, I can’t say that I blame him. I can’t imagine being alone on the streets, having to scavenge and even fight to feed your empty stomach pains, to always be looking over your shoulder, never getting a good nights rest because you are always unsettled. I am shocked that more dogs are not reactive, or even aggressive. We have discovered that it is mostly fearful dogs right out of the shelter, but dear lord, that shelter is a nightmare. Every time that I have visited the shelter, I am physically sick to my stomach. Just looking into the eyes of these animals is enough to break your heart on the spot. If they are lucky to escape, they carry the weight of that fear, the smell of death, and they KNOW. They are grateful.
Levi had to go into boarding after a few days in his first foster home. In boarding, he grew progressively depressed. He shut down. He spent his days with his face pressed up against the bars. He had no interaction. His dog reactive issues intensified as he was taken out to attend adoption events. And back he would go into boarding, into isolation. His own little hell where he felt nothing. It broke our hearts to see his spirit broken. I cried….literally…..every time he was taken back to that boarding facility.
Especially this one time, where he went missing for two years.
Levi came to our event. I was leading that event at Starbucks in Leon Springs, and Levi was being handled by one our long term volunteers who was always willing to help break him out of boarding when he could. It was time for me to break down and load up my event supplies, and Levi was at my feet. I remember looking down into his big brown eyes, and how sad and soulful they were. I bent over and told him, “oh Levi, I’m so sorry. I wish I had found you a home today.” He moved forward and sat right on my feet, and he gingerly lifted one paw up towards me. I could feel my tears welling up right there. I stooped and embraced him in a huge, warm hug. He leaned in to me. I should have never let him go, because after that, he was gone for a long time.
He escaped his volunteer at a local walking trail shortly after. He was frightened by a jogger, and backed out of his collar, and jetted off into the woodsey area of the park. A few of us headed out right away, in search of him. Calling his name, sporting treats and food, and slip leads. All day and into the evening. On that first day of his disappearance, I stumbled upon a rattler. Seriously, there it was, under a boulder. I froze and slowly backed away. In my mind, I could see it all play out, the striking out, my screams, and the news caption, “local rescuer dies from snake bit searching for missing dog”. And yes, I can laugh about it now. But guess what? I would do it again, almost piss my pants searching for this sweet, special boy.
Three months pass, and there I was, still looking. First I went every morning, and then it was every other morning, but I never stopped. After awhile, I stopped talking about him to my other rescue ladies, because life went on, and lives still needed to be saved. I kept looking for Levi. I would never forget those eyes, and the way that he looked at me on that last day. I knew he was out there. I could FEEL IT.
When he finally was found, it was TWO YEARS LATER. The power of the microchip, people!! His finder had taken him to a local vet for a bath, where he was scanned and we were contacted.
He was pretty chubby, so somehow, along the way, good Samaritans were keeping him fed. I am gathering he made his way from human to human, gathering enough scraps to keep himself alive. He may have been malnourished and had some battle scars, but he did not go hungry.
His story was compelling, so another foster gave it a shot with him. There were several other dogs in the household, so we were crossing our fingers. He was kept segregated from the other dogs, and we received several hopeful pictures of him laying on a doggie bed, and all seemed well. I imagine that after very careful introductions were made, there was a moment of pure chaos, and there was a bite incident. Truth be told, moments of chaos for ANY dog can result in a bite or a fight, but there he went, back to boarding. We chose a different facility this time. We would never subject any of our dogs to a facility where they received no interaction, and we refused to let him go back to that dark place. where he shut himself off from the rest of the world.
This next boarding facility had huge open play areas for each dog. The staff was loving, attentive, and they CARED about Levi’s emotional and physical well being. He lived there for almost a year. Our rescue marketed him like crazy, I made Levi his own Facebook page, we recruited volunteers to spent time with him, and I took my kids to play with him as much as I could. And many times I went alone, to sit with him, and let him know he wasn’t forgotten. Because sadly, Levi was one of those dogs that most people would walk by, without a second glance, if that. He wasn’t unique to the eye. Most people did not know what he really was, but I did, and several of our volunteers knew, and they were his advocates. They had his back the entire time he was in boarding. These volunteers are the reason why he is in a foster home right now, where he will most likely because a permanent resident. And yes, I know what you are thinking…..I said it out loud. Doggie prayers. Human prayers would be even better, because if this works, and Levi has his home, I will have a new outlook on the human race, and their capacity to love and show kindness.
This young lady asked for Levi, out of all of the dogs that we had available for adoption. I wanted to know why, why Levi? She said, “because he reminds me of ME.” And right there, peeps, I wanted to cry. That is FAMILY. The pretty young lady was looking for a FAMILY MEMBER, not just a dog. God bless her, and her beautiful young soul, to look at Levi, and recognize his worth. He is special, different. He has been so patient, waiting for his person. I will pray every single morning, that she is his person, and that he is her person. I will pray that she will be happily married one day, and we will receive pictures her children laying across Levi, him sitting there with his tongue out, and his lazy sweet self looking so happy, content, and finally at peace. Yes, I am dreaming WAY in advance. I am hopeful.
Thank GOD for fosters, saving lives one dog at a time. Thank GOD for volunteers, sacrificing their time away from their families and friends, to open their hearts to care for these dogs that have no one else. You KNOW who I am talking about 🙂
And Levi….how I love you so. My heart breaks with happiness for you. I cry happy tears. And I ache from praying so hard that you have found your forever.