On delivery routes, UPS drivers meet so many dogs, both loveable and fierce, that they can actually upload photos of these encounters on Facebook and Instagram! One of these regular interactions, between 15-year UPS driver Katie Newhouser and pit bull Leo, became so close that Newhouser decided to foster, and then adopt, Leo when the dog’s owner passed away.
Newhouser connected with Leo on her regular deliveries in Rancho Cucamonga, California, where Leo’s owner, Tina, lived. He often greeted Newhouser as she arrived and would jump into the truck.
“He would hear my truck come into the condo complex and start barking and scratching at the door to come down to the truck. He would love to come into the truck and go into the back to look around. I remember one day I was driving up one of my busier streets and they were coming down the street and all of a sudden there was Leo popping his head out the passenger side barking at me! He barked all the way down the street!”
One day after coming back from a vacation, she learned of Tina’s death and immediately thought of Leo. The dog had been with Tina ever since he was a puppy, and together had formed an incredible bond. After years of knowing Tina and Leo, Newhouser had grown to love the dog as well.
“When I found out that Tina had passed away, I was in shock and disbelief. I got to know Tina through Leo. As is the case with many of my customers that I have become friends with, I generally will know the dog’s name before their name.”
Newhouser called Tina’s son, Cannon, and offered to foster the pit bull. “I let him know that I would take care of Leo until he returned. They had enough to deal with,” she said. A marine, Tina’s son eventually agreed to let Newhouser keep Leo after the dog bonded with the UPS driver and her other pets.
It was tough for Leo at the start to adjust to a new home, as he was so close to Tina. Newhouser said, “I do know that Leo missed Tina when he first got here. He would whine at night before he would fall asleep. It was heartbreaking, really. He still does every once in a while. I know he misses her.”
Leo began to feel more at home as he got to know the other dogs, and grew even more attached to Newhouser. “I feel that this was the best-case scenario for him. He knew me already and I feel as though there was a huge bond already between us. He always is the first to greet me at the door when I come home and the one who is always closest to me when I sleep.”
Sad and lonely upon his first owner’s death, Newhouser is sure that Tina is happy knowing that her beloved pet continues to be loved and cared for.