Woman looking to adopt puppy finds dog lost two years ago
ALLENTOWN, Pa. (AP) —
On June 18, former Allentown resident Aisha Nieves of Schuylkill County was scrolling through pictures of puppies up for adoption.
Nieves wanted to have a dog in their home again for her two boys to play with.
“I happened to be on the Lehigh County Humane Society adoption site, looking through pictures, when my phone just froze on this one picture and I just stared,” she said Thursday.
The picture was of a tan pitbull-rottweiler mix.
“I thought, ‘Wait, that can’t be him,’” Nieves said, referring to her dog she lost two years ago.
Kovu is his name, after the character in “The Lion King.”
“Then, I saw the little scar over one eye, the scar from when he got caught in a gate, and I was like, ‘Oh my God, that’s my baby, that’s Kovu!’” Nieves said.
Nieves got Kovu when he was 7 weeks old in 2014.
She loved and cared for him in her 14th Street home in Allentown until May 2019.
Kovu, who never wandered away or ran off before, was suddenly gone, Nieves said. He left through a hole made two weeks prior by a car crashing into her front gate.
“I found out he was gone when I came home later that day and he wasn’t there to run to me and give me kisses like he usually did,” Nieves said. “I searched the whole house and couldn’t find him, then looked around Allentown for a good week or so and still couldn’t find him.
“I was four months pregnant with my younger son at the time,” she said. “I had a lot of emotions going through me. I was crying, thinking the worst, thinking somebody kidnapped or hurt him. I was just devastated. He was there for me through everything, heartbreaks, ups and downs, and now he was gone. It was so hard to accept.”
Weeks later, on June 8, 2019, the Lehigh County Humane Society picked up Kovu in an Allentown resident’s yard on Eighth Street, where he was spotted, and brought him to the shelter.
“Our staff named him ‘Ash,’” LCHS director of development Deirdre Snyder said. “He needed to be treated for fleas, was missing hair on his hind end and had inflammation. He was treated with antibiotics and bathed with a special medical shampoo. He was in our shelter for about four months and then adopted out to a family Oct. 25, 2019.
“On June 12 of this year, the family returned, stating they were facing possible eviction and needed to surrender him,” Snyder said. “We accepted him and waived the surrender fee. Kovu was in good health.”
Six days later, when seeing Kovu’s picture among those of dogs available for adoption at LCHS, “I at first thought, ‘No way is this my dog,’” Nieves said. “They had him under another name, ‘Ash.’ When I was sure it was him, I got so excited I was literally shaking.
“I called the Humane Society and told them ‘Ash’ is my dog, Kofu, who’s been missing for two years,” she said. “I told them, ‘I’m on my way to get him right now, what do I need to bring?’”
Just her identification, a picture of her with Kovu before he ran off and the fee to get him back.
When Nieves arrived for Kovu, “I was nervous,” she said. “I was sweating. My hands started shaking. I was scared he wouldn’t remember me because it had been so long. I sat there, waiting for them to bring him out. Then, something made me look up and I locked eyes with him and saw him wagging his tail.”
On its Facebook page with pictures of Nieves being reunited with Kovu, the Humane Society posted, “Upon seeing his long-lost mom, the previously shy and scared Kovu let out the most excited squeal we have ever heard!”
Nieves said, “He was screaming, trying to get away from the guy holding him and run to me. Then, he just jumped on me and we started kissing and hugging. He sat on my lap. I told him, ‘Yeah, buddy, you’re going home. I’m so sorry this happened. Never again am I losing you.’”
It’s rare for a pet at LCHS to be reunited with an owner after this long, but not unusual for a dog to still recognize the owner after being separated for so long, Snyder said.
“Dogs have an incredible sense of smell and that is likely the first thing that brings the recognition,” she said. “There are many videos online of military personnel coming home after a long time away and their dog will recognize them with a similar joy and excitement that Kovu had for Aisha.”
Nieves and her family now look forward to celebrating Kovu’s 7th birthday this Christmas.
“Now that he’s back home, I feel whole again,” she said. “All that time he was gone, I felt like a piece of me was missing. Never did I stop thinking about him or wondering if he was being treated well wherever he was. I’d look at Facebook pictures of us together and start crying. I just wanted my baby back. And now he is.”