Valerie Louie saved our beloved Uncle Mort from a lifetime of abuse. Then she turned a pandemic casualty. Her dying is being mourned by households with four-pawed members throughout San Francisco and the Bay Space.
Ms. Louie spent 20 years rescuing canines like Uncle Mort from shelters and discovering them properties like ours anxious to have a brand new greatest good friend. Her specialty was rescuing the actually 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 endurance 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 canines. 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 Middle in San Francisco, town the place she was born and raised. She was 60. Her legacy lives.
“I can’t fathom what number of canines she saved, in all probability hundreds,” 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 canines get bred, adopted and deserted.
Mates mentioned she had a specific knack as matchmaker between canine and household. She would preserve a psychological log of the folks looking for rescue canines, and when the proper match got here alongside, she would name with the excellent news.
Some canines she saved — 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 by a corporation known as Rocket Canine 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, an in depth good friend who additionally rescues canines and works at Oakland Animal Companies, “and a San Francisco establishment.”
Through the pandemic, Ms. Louie rescued some 80 canines, discovering them at shelters and farming them out to properties, in accordance 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, at the back of Ms. Louie’s Toyota RAV4 in early 2018. It was simply one other Saturday for Valerie, taking canines 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 appeared to be softening to the concept.
The huddled creature was half longhaired Chihuahua mutt, part-depressive. He was three 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 informed me
I informed her that I want to give the canine a strive however needed to do some convincing on the house entrance. She bought it instantly. She had completed it tons of 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 regarded round approvingly whereas the canine deposited his opening gambit on our carpet. His given title was Franco. That didn’t match.
Franco appeared like a Spanish dictator. The weathered soul in our home, whereas solely three years outdated, regarded extra like an historical 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 regarded strikingly alike.
The brand new title match all of the extra after we witnessed his early conduct, which entailed trying nervous when awake however principally sleeping with an outsize snore that appeared like your great-uncle after Thanksgiving dinner, handed out on the sofa.
We known as a canine coach to come back see if Mort would possibly study to like and be liked. The coach was doubtful. “He’ll be canine, however don’t get your hopes up that he’ll be the household canine you imagined. He’s had a tough go.”
We bought our hopes up. We have been rewarded.
Uncle Mort has grow to be probably the most loving and beloved creature in our home, some days exceeding the kids in each respects. My spouse is his “particular person,” and when she returns dwelling from an absence, irrespective of how transient, he goes bananas as if he has simply found the ocean.
Now, Meredith calls Uncle Mort her “endlessly pet.” Such is the state of Mort’s leisure as of late that he frequently lies in varied positions of seemingly not possible 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 grow to be accustomed.
Uncle Mort — or just “good boy” — turned the veritable dog-in-the-window we at all times dreamed we’d take dwelling, and so it actually hit our family after we realized 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 trip.
On Oct. 29, she texted Ms. McAdam, her shut good friend: “I’ve not been this sick in endlessly. 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 good friend 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 canines 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. “These are the canines she rescued.”
At Highland Hospital, the place she labored, her loss was felt deeply too. Michelle Hepburn, director of emergency providers and trauma at Alameda Well being Methods, 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.