She Saved Thousands of Best Friends. Then Covid-19 Killed Her.


Valerie Louie saved our beloved Uncle Mort from a lifetime of abuse. Then she grew to become a pandemic casualty. Her dying is being mourned by households with four-pawed members throughout San Francisco and the Bay Area.

Ms. Louie spent twenty years rescuing canine like Uncle Mort from shelters and discovering them properties like ours anxious to have a brand new finest pal. Her specialty was rescuing the really deserted and damaged pup, the abused, the blind, the deaf and the lengthy in tooth.

The day she dropped off the sad-eyed mutt I’d recognized at considered one of her shelter occasions, the little man promptly deposited a poop on our eating room carpet.

“It’s just a bit one,” Ms. Louie mentioned. She had a beneficiant smile and the persistence of a member of the clergy.

Ms. Louie, who died of Covid-19 on Nov. 25 after two weeks in an intensive care unit, didn’t simply save rescue canine. She saved folks too. She was a nurse and labored for 32 years at Highland Hospital in Oakland, beginning within the emergency division. Her final place was coordinator of superior life help.

She was a single mom. She leaves behind her son, Andrew Louie, 21, who lived along with her and likewise was contaminated with the coronavirus in late October. He has since recovered.

Ms. Louie died on the Mission-Bernal campus of California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco, town the place she was born and raised. She was 60. Her legacy lives.

“I can not fathom what number of canine she saved, most likely 1000’s,” her son mentioned, echoing a determine estimated by fellow volunteers. She farmed out the canines to households after retrieving them from shelters, together with so-called kill shelters in central California the place many canine get bred, adopted and deserted.

Friends mentioned she had a specific knack as matchmaker between canine and household. She would preserve a psychological log of the folks in search of rescue canine, and when the proper match got here alongside, she would name with the excellent news.

Some canine she stored — like Ida, a French bulldog discovered within the mountains of China in 2012. The one that discovered the canine, deserted and blind after it had been used for breeding, found Ms. Louie on the web via a company referred to as Rocket Dog Rescue that she labored with on the time. Ms. Louie organized to have the canine flown to San Francisco, her son mentioned.

“She was a powerhouse,” mentioned Meg McAdam, a detailed pal who additionally rescues canine and works at Oakland Animal Services, “and a San Francisco establishment.”

During the pandemic, Ms. Louie rescued some 80 canine, discovering them at shelters and farming them out to properties, in line with Ms. McAdam.

Tributes have poured in to a GoFundMe web site Ms. McAdam set as much as assist help Ms. Louie’s son.

“Valerie gave us our candy Boomer,” one grateful mourner wrote. “I’ve prayed for her on a regular basis since we heard the information.”

“Valerie gave us our Reggie.”

“She helped us immensely with our Zito.”

I can testify too. I first noticed Uncle Mort, a tortured little soul, behind Ms. Louie’s Toyota RAV4 in early 2018. It was simply one other Saturday for Valerie, taking canine to an adoption occasion at a mall on the southern fringe of San Francisco.

I had lurked on the occasion on the prior two weekends, that must-have-dog feeling rising inside me. My spouse, Meredith, lengthy reticent due to her husband-won’t-take-care-of-dog feeling, had gave the impression to be softening to the thought.

The huddled creature was half longhaired Chihuahua mutt, part-depressive. He was 3 years outdated, and far of his life had been spent locked outdoors as a result of the person of the home didn’t like his vibe, Ms. Louie instructed me

I instructed her that I want to give the canine a attempt however needed to do some convincing on the house entrance. She received it instantly. She had achieved it a whole lot of instances — the veritable trial run for the household on the fence about bringing in a brand new member with fur and a troubled previous.

I signed the papers and, a number of days later, Ms. Louie dropped him off and assessed the match. She appeared round approvingly whereas the canine deposited his opening gambit on our carpet. His given title was Franco. That didn’t match.

Franco seemed like a Spanish dictator. The weathered soul in our home, whereas solely 3 years outdated, appeared extra like an historic member of the British Parliament. We christened him Uncle Mort. That had been the title of a personality in a comic book strip I had written for a decade; canine and comic-strip character appeared strikingly alike.

The new title match all of the extra after we witnessed his early habits, which entailed trying nervous when awake however largely sleeping with an outsize snore that seemed like your great-uncle after Thanksgiving dinner, handed out on the sofa.

We referred to as a canine coach to come back see if Mort may be taught to like and be cherished. The coach was doubtful. “He’ll be a superb canine, however don’t get your hopes up that he’ll be the household canine you imagined. He’s had a tough go.”

We received our hopes up. We had been rewarded.

Uncle Mort has turn into probably the most loving and beloved creature in our home, some days exceeding the youngsters in each respects. My spouse is his “individual,” and when she returns house from an absence, regardless of how temporary, he goes bananas as if he has simply found the ocean.

Now, Meredith calls Uncle Mort her “ceaselessly pet.” Such is the state of Mort’s rest today that he commonly lies in numerous positions of seemingly inconceivable geometry and vulnerability, all 4 limbs within the air in order that he could also be petted across the chest and neck and ears within the method to which he has turn into accustomed.

Uncle Mort — or just “good boy” — grew to become the veritable dog-in-the-window we all the time dreamed we’d take house, and so it actually hit our family after we discovered that Ms. Louie was within the I.C.U.

Hers is a typical Covid-19 tragedy. It’s not clear how she contracted the illness, and it took her on a deadly roller-coaster experience.

On Oct. 29, she texted Ms. McAdam, her shut pal: “I’ve not been this sick in ceaselessly. I can’t break the fever.”

On Nov. 2, she texted: “I’m sleeping days away. I’m dropping pockets of time.”

On Nov. 11, a pal went to her home to inspect Ms. Louie and located her in dire straits. She was transported to the hospital and promptly intubated.

Ms. Louie’s son is taking faculty courses, finding out to be a nurse, and lately picked up his mother’s position and helped discover properties for the final three canine that she had dedicated to position.

One was Blitz, a grey terrier combine who’s deaf. Then there’s Bronco, a long-haired dachshund, and Tavish, a one-eyed pug.

“That was an actual Valerie canine,” Ms. McAdam mentioned. “Those are the canine she rescued.”

At Highland Hospital, the place she labored, her loss was felt deeply too. Michelle Hepburn, director of emergency companies and trauma at Alameda Health Systems, which operates Highland, adopted Bella, a pit bull pet, with the assistance of Ms. Louie.

“Her ardour for caring each for folks and fur infants was evident in each waking second,” Ms. Hepburn mentioned.



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