UPS Driver Adopts Pit Bull On Her Route After His Owner Passes Away
“I knew he had nowhere to go, and I didn’t want him to end up in a shelter, and with somebody who was not going to be good for him.”
Every time Katie Newhouser pulled up her UPS truck to a condo complex in Rancho Cucamonga, California, a pit bull named Leo would be there to greet her.
“Whenever I’d turn up at the complex, he’d apparently go crazy, and he’d want to come down and see me,” Newhouser told The Dodo. “He just took a liking to me for some reason. He’d always come up and lick me.”
After greeting Newhouser, Leo would hop into her UPS truck like he wanted to go for a ride, although Newhouser couldn't take him.
“He would sit there and sniff around,” Newhouser said. “When I had to leave, he didn’t want to get out.”
A woman named Tina owned Leo, and Newhouser had gotten to know her when she stopped to pet Leo.
“I saw Tina walking Leo and stopped to pet him,” Newhouser said. “That's how I started talking to Tina. That's actually how I've started talking to most of my customers. If they've got a dog, I'm stopping.”
This routine lasted for more than a year — Newhouser would arrive, Leo would race out to her and smother her with kisses. But last October, Leo’s world would change forever.
“I was on vacation, and when I came back to work, I went to the complex,” Newhouser said. “When I was pulling in, I saw [Tina’s] son Cannon pulling out with furniture in the back, and I thought, ‘Oh that’s weird.’ I just waved to him and he waved to me. And I didn’t think anything of it, because she was looking to move because the association of the condo was giving Leo a hard time because he was a pit bull, and they didn’t really want him there.”
Newhouser tried calling Tina, but her call went straight to voicemail. So Newhouser checked Tina’s Facebook page, and that’s when she learned what had happened — Tina had passed away.
Newhouser knew that Tina’s son, Cannon, was in the Marine Corps, and he’d be going away for training soon, so she contacted him and asked what was happening with Leo.
“I said [to Cannon], ‘I’ll take Leo until you can come back and get him from your training,’” Newhouser said. “And he said, ‘That’s fine.' And then I picked him up that following Saturday.”
“I knew he had nowhere to go, and I didn’t want him to end up in a shelter, and with somebody who was not going to be good for him,” Newhouser added.
When she went to pick up Leo, Newhouser didn’t drive her UPS truck, but Leo still instantly recognized her.
“He ran up to me, and started barking at me, just like he does when I’m in my UPS truck,” Newhouser said. “Then he immediately hopped into my truck. He loves going in the car, so I think he just thought he was going for a ride. But you could tell that he was confused.”
Newhouser had three other dogs at home. Not sure how they’d all react to each other, she introduced the dogs one by one in the backyard. But she quickly realized she had nothing to worry about.
“They did some sniffing, and then they started running around in the backyard,” Newhouser said. “They just immediately took to each other.”
But Leo missed Tina — a lot. Newhouser could tell by the way Leo would whine.
“He would whine a lot at night,” Newhouser said. “It made me very sad.”
Leo still occasionally whines at night, but he’s now more adjusted to his new life with Newhouser, whom he lives with full-time now. And Newhouser couldn’t be happier that Leo is part of her family.
“He’s a big baby. He’s one of the most gentle dogs I have ever met,” Newhouser said. “He’s big and he looks like he could be mean, but if you look at his eyes, you can just tell that he’s just the sweetest dog.”