Behind the Scenes
Theo’s New Family
Copy: Sarah Dickerson
Photography: Sarah Dickerson
I’m sure you recognize one of these cute faces. Yep, it’s Theo (previously named Kale) the handsome young man we found hungry and tired walking along a busy intersection last April. I am happy to be sharing his story with you today. Our adventure together was an emotional roller coaster, but with a very happy ending. It’s a bit lengthy, but I promise you, it will make you believe in fate and forever soul mates even more than before.
That day my husband and I were on our way to Sunday breakfast down by the beach, we were about half way there when we saw this skinny young pup walking down a busy intersection. We pulled over to check on him, he didn’t have on a collar or any type of ID. He was super friendly and greeted us with a tail wag and a few ‘hello’ sniffs. We opened the car door and he hopped in and immediately started napping in the backseat. My heart melted. He must have been so exhausted from walking! The area was mostly businesses and hospitals, so we drove around the closest neighborhoods asking if anyone was missing a dog, but nobody seemed to recognize him. We took him in to keep him safe and out of danger, hoping we could reunite him with his family.
On our way home we stopped at our local vet to see if he had an ID chip. We were welcomed by Meg, a vet tech who was working that morning. She checked him out, but no chip. She seemed smitten with him and wished us luck finding his owners. We made our way home, and he soon made himself at home. Despite the fact that Coco was scared of his energy and size, she was on her best behavior and tried to let it slide that he was going to be our new house guest for a while. We decided to call him Kale.
We soon figured out that Kale was one smart pup. He knew several commands and was very obedient. He was also quite a character, burying his entire body under blankets to nap, and then laying on his back with all four legs pointed straight up in the air so it looked like there was a giant teepee in our living room. SO. Adorable. That same day I made a found poster and sent it to all the local animal rescue groups on facebook and passed them out to businesses. His photo was on windows all over town. He was even gentleman enough to pose for a very GQ photoshoot with a bow tie and glasses to get his facebook photos noticed faster. He was a natural, clearly.
His photos spread on facebook so quickly, and before I knew it the images in the Operation: Find Kale’s Family photo album had been seen by over 20,000 people. I was so happy that his face was out there and closer to reaching his family – But there were no leads, no word from his family, nothing. Several weeks went by and it was becoming more and more clear that he had been dumped. It made sense… a high traffic business area is the perfect place for someone to find him and take him in. I just couldn’t wrap my head around why someone would abandon this sweet pup, and how sad he must feel.
We wanted to keep him and give him a forever home with us, but it wouldn’t have been fair to him or Coco. He needed a big grassy yard to play and run around in, and playmate that wasn’t terrified of his puppy energy and growing size. He deserved that and so much more. It was a hard decision, with many sleepless nights, but we did what we had to do and started a search for the perfect new family. I had already fallen in love with him and his spunky personality, and I needed to know that his new family was going to love him just as much and more. We wouldn’t give him to just anyone.
One night we tucked Kale into his bed in the living room and we went to sleep in our room. The next morning my husband left at the crack of dawn for a school seminar, a little later I woke up to Kale… literally bouncing off the walls and running into furniture, acting completely crazy. I noticed that on our high kitchen counter, what had been a full bag of dark chocolate covered almonds, was now just an empty bag with a giant hole in it. He had ate the WHOLE BAG. I freaked out. I immediately looked up the amount of theobromine toxicity found in dark chocolate, it was moderate to high levels. I called our local vet, which happens to be just down the street and they were closed. They wouldn’t be open for another hour. I tried to calm him down, but there was no stopping his craziness. Coco, beyond scared, hid under the bed the entire time. I was terrified that his heart was going to beat out of his chest. It was the longest 45 minutes of my life. I felt so guilty that I hadn’t notice the bag on the counter the day before. I am so used to small dogs, I didn’t even think to clear the counter of items he could grab.
I arrived at the vet’s office early, franticly knocking on the door. Meg, the same girl who was working the day we found him was there. I was teary eyed explaining to her what had happened. She was calming and reassuring me that he was going to be okay. She took him to the back to do a full check up on him. When she came back out she said I could go home a rest a bit while he calms down, she could tell it had taken a lot out of me. I was a complete mess. I thanked her and told her I would be back in a couple of hours.
When I returned he was doing a little better, still very hyper but better. Meg said she would like to foster him for a few days if I would be okay with it. She began to tell me that she had just recently lost her dog, Romeo, in a heartbreaking accident just a few week prior. She said she had two other grieving dogs at home and has been wanting to bring in a foster to cheer them up. Amos, her white pitbull mix who was especially close with Romeo, had witnessed the accident and had been very depressed since. I felt an immediate connection to Meg, you can just tell when someone has a big heart. I was more than happy to give it a trial run, hoping things would work out.
I waited nervously to hear how they were getting along, my hopes high. Then, I began getting floods of texts and photos from Meg. The first one a video of the three dogs playing together, followed by this photo of Kale snuggled up with Amos as if they had known one another for years. It read:
“I think he will be staying here for a while 🙂 He is just what we needed. It’s been a hard three weeks since I lost my boy. I’m so happy! Thank you for saving his life.”
Shortly afterwards, Kale was renamed Theo, after the Theobromine in the chocolate that led him back to Meg, and became an official member of their family. He couldn’t have a more perfect name, or family for that matter. Theo now has a huge back yard to run and play in. Him and Amos are completely inseparable, they cuddle and sleep on top of one another every chance they get. He has a big sister that he loves named Kona, an Akita mix and queen of the house. Theo now has an awesome dad named Craig, who also happens to be an amazing veterinarian at our Marine Science Center. Since both him and Meg are in the veterinary field, they take in lots of injured and abandon animals and nurse them back to health. Theo has been a big brother to many baby opossum, baby birds, cats, turtles, and many woodland creatures – and he is loving and gentle to every single one. He knows that’s where he is meant to be and has learned so much in his new home.
Meg sends me photos and videos of all of Theo’s adventures and it makes me teary eyed every time. Happy tears. I couldn’t have imagined a better ending for him, or for Meg and her family. He was guided to them. Dogs have an amazing healing effect on the heart, and I believe that Romeo was looking after his family and guided Theo to them so they could all heal. I truly believe it.
I had the honor of capturing photos of Theo enjoying a day at the beach with his new family. It’s easy to see they belong together, and I couldn’t be happier for them!
Copy: Sarah Dickerson
Photography: Sarah Dickerson