Leon » Leon

Leon

LEON – THE ESMA ICON
by Heidi Tallat

This is difficult for me to write, but I believe, that I have to. I want to do the best thing for a very loved friend.
Ever since I know ESMA, Leon was there. The great Leon, leader of the pack, ruler of the big playground. Leon, the darling of ESMA visitors, the perfect gentleman, Leon, the best, an ESMA dog can be. Leon, the poster boy for ESMA. Everybody at ESMA knew Leon. And knowing Leon means loving Leon. Leon was the first baladi dog, walking on the leash. He was center of attention at each event, admired and respected by dogs and humans. Leon was the proud face, representing ESMA even on TV and in posters and magazines. Leon always knew, what to do. He controlled the playground with power and confidence, and his charm with humans always made him the darling of all the visitors. He was the first, to be seen, the first to run to meet them, not jumping up or imposing himself, just standing there, with the power of his brown eyes, which commanded to notice him, receiving treats, pets, hugs and cuddles with grace and affection. Leon, always the incarnated soul of everything, ESMA is standing for. For the ESMA people, who are with ESMA for several years, and, of course, for me, Leon was always there. The first, the best, the king, and nobody ever thought, or wanted to think, that this would ever be different. But Leon became older. I did not want to see the signs. Leon retreated into the back of the playground. He was not the first any more, to come and greet us. He is still respected by the pack, but not involved any more. His coat is loosing luster, his eyes are often inflamed, his body is thinner now. Chris said, Leon is getting too old for the shelter. I said, no, Leon will always be the king here, will always be here, at ESMA, with us. I did not want it to be different, although I started to be worried, every time, I did not find him at once. I know, Mona feels the same, and much more so. Leon is still the first who is asked about, the first who gets treated against worms or parasites or any of the many diseases, threatening a shelter dog. When dogs are washed, Leon is always washed, every time. But, like many times, I did not want to see him becoming weaker, thinner, moving slower. On dog walks, it was always coming as a little shock to me, when people, who walked Leon, did not feel the honor of having him at their side, and when my telling them, how important and fantastic he was, that he had been on TV, that he is a star at ESMA, was just bringing about a polite smile. At the last dog walk it hit me hard. Leon became tired, and I had to bring him back to the shelter, together with two of our other older dogs. He was exhausted, and I was crying the whole way back. It is so difficult to see the truth. Leon is an old dog, and for the young visitors he will soon be nothing, but an old dog, just like for the other dogs of the packs. I can see it now. Leon never had a home, the comfort of a person or family, the soft bed, the treats, the good food, the exclusive love of someone. Leon always had been the king, loved by everyone at ESMA, privileged at everything. ESMA could give. But we are not able to give him the special care for his golden years. Leon should experience the love of a person, lying on a sofa, walking on grass, eating the best food, having the best care for his ageing body, hanging around, taking slow walks, being pampered and so much loved. This is, what I want for our Leon: retiring in dignity, with the best love and care, there is. Enjoying the comforts of a companion, of a family member. Leon is ready to travel. If anybody feels, he can offer King Leon the home, he deserves, and that we want for him, it will not be an easy task. We will always want to know, how Leon is. We will always want pictures and updates. We will always want the best for our Leon, so, please do not just write that you want him. We have to make sure, very sure, that Leon will have one of the best times of his life. This is incredibly difficult, and it hurts. I can’t imagine ESMA without Leon, yet. It will hurt, if he goes away. Maybe some of it this hurt also is a selfish awareness of the passing of time, the loss of power and attention, the ageing of the body, and the fading away into the background. I want Leon to start a new life, and if anybody thinks, he can offer our king a suitable retreat, please contact Mona Khalil at esmaegypt.org. Leon will always stay the splendid King of ESMA for many of us!