Aisha Nieves had made up her mind in June that she was going to adopt a puppy.
After losing her dog two years earlier, the Pennsylvania woman was yearning to find a new puppy for her and her two sons to play with.
Nieves got on the LeHigh County Humane Society adoption site, and was looking through pictures, when she was shocked at a picture she stumbled upon.
“My phone just froze on this one picture and I just stared,” she told the Morning Call.
She was looking at a tan pit bull-Rottweiler mix that looked just like a dog she’d had years prior, named Kovu.
Nieves said she got Kovu when he was 7 weeks old. She had him for about five years when he wandered off through a hole in her gate, made two weeks prior when a car crashed through her front gate.
When she arrived home later in the day, Nieves said Kovu didn’t run to her like he usually did.
“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,” she said.
Nieves said she was devastated when it happened.
“It was so hard to accept.”
That was in 2019. Fast forward to last month, two years after Kovu disappeared, and Nieves was sitting there staring at a picture of a dog that looked just like him.
“‘That can’t be him,’” she said she thought. “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 called the Humane Society to let them know she would be coming to get the dog on the site -- the dog she believed to be hers, but had since been named Ash.
She said when she arrived, “I was nervous. 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.”
It was Nieves’ dog Kovu, and the reunion was one worth sharing.
“He was screaming, trying to get away from the guy holding him (to) run to me,” Nieves said. “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 turns out, weeks after Kovu had escaped his yard in 2019, the LeHigh County Humane Society spotted him and took 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 is 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.”
That family returned Kovu on June 12 of this year, saying they were facing possible eviction and needed to surrender him.
Six days later, Nieves got on the Humane Society website, found Kovu and the rest, as they say, is history.
“Now that he’s back home, I feel whole again,” Nieves 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.”
It’s worth noting, Snyder said, that it is rare for a pet at the LCHS to be reunited with an owner after so long, but not unusual for pets to recognize their owner after such a lengthy separation.
“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.”