Boy earns stray dog’s trust, saves her life

Nine-year-old Freeport, Illinois boy D.J. Levan was enjoying the winter snow at local Krape Park over the weekend, spending his Saturday sledding with his dad and a friend.

D.J. Levan met the stray dog while the 9-year-old boy was sledding in Freeport, Illinois.

But Levan never expected he would make a new friend that day — a four-legged friend desperately in need of someone’s help.

Levan says he’d heard rumors of a loose dog near where he was sledding, but he hadn’t seen her.

“I heard a lot of people talking about how this dog had been living at the park, but no one could get close to her,” Levan told the

Then, suddenly, Levan spotted a black-and-white dog in the distance, watching him sled down the hill. Levan slowly approached the dog, attempting to pet her, but the shy dog never came close enough to touch. The boy tried to gently coax the dog to him, but to no avail. He left the park that evening resolved to try again the following day.

When he went back to the park Sunday morning with a sled in hand and a goal in mind. This time, when Levan hit the sledding hill, the dog seemed interested in him. It was as if she’d recognized the young boy from the previous afternoon.

A delighted Levan accepted playful kisses from his new buddy and laughed as she followed him up and down the hill. “She became my friend,” Levan explained.

As the dog continued to put her trust in the kind boy, Levan decided to give her a name — Kelly. Naming his new friend strengthened Levan’s determination to help Kelly.

“I gave her a name — I just knew we had to save her,” the boy said.

When Levan and his dad left Krape Park that afternoon, Kelly easily hopped into the back of their car without missing a beat. Levan pet Kelly and talked to her while his father contacted the Friends Forever Humane Society Shelter Manager, Carol Falconer.

Falconer and Freeport Animal Control Officer Bill Niesman had been working for two weeks to try and rescue the elusive Kelly, but without success. When the seasoned shelter manager heard that Kelly had been rescued by a 9-year-old boy, she was astonished — and quite relieved.

“She is a love,” Falconer said, “a bit timid, and I am glad she is safe—it has bothered me we could not save her when the temperatures were the coldest last week.”

“The fact that D.J. and this dog bonded just shows the power of trust — Kelly, as she is known now, trusted that little boy — he saved her,” Falconer added.

Kelly is a 2-year-old Blue Heeler mix in good health except for a few tender spots on her paws. She is on a stray hold at the shelter for a few more days, and should nobody claim her, Kelly will be put up for adoption.

But D.J. Levan will never forget the dog he’d won over and rescued.

“I’m so glad she is now safe and warm,” Levan said of his new friend Kelly, “and I can’t wait to visit her some day.”