Liora and Sabra: Together at Last

By Nina Natelson

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Babe (Sabra) in Israel


Baby (Liora) in Israel


Travel-weary puppies arrived in Washington, DC late in the evening. Rather than keep them and representatives of the shelters that had agreed to house them waiting while we checked their "passports," each shelter’s representatives quickly took a group of dogs, keeping together those they thought looked like siblings. Two large white pups ended up at the Alexandria, Virginia shelter.


Karis Graham immediately felt a bond with one of the puppies, adopted her, and named her Liora, which in Hebrew means "my light," or "God's gift of light to me." Karis is a former Air Force chaplain who served in combat zones overseas, counseling servicemen suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. After retiring from the military, Karis earned a PhD in psychology and accepted a job at a Washington, DC, mental health facility. From her experience, Karis understood completely what Liora had been through and how she must be suffering.


Every night, Liora had terrible nightmares. Karis held and rocked her, reassuring her that the war was over and she was now safe. Never again would she be in harm's way. As the weeks passed, Liora's nightmares seemed to lessen a bit, but Karis thought it would be a long time before she would be free of them altogether.


I did not yet know of Karis' and Liora's experience because shelters only release information about adopters if they give specific permission to do so. In the meantime, I placed another large, white puppy refugee with a woman who, like Karis, lives in Washington, DC. This woman, Nina Halper, learned of the Israeli pups from a Washington Post article about the rescue. Nina named her new puppy Sabra (in Hebrew, a native-born Israeli). A Sabra is a cactus that grows in Israel, known for being tough on the outside, soft on the inside.


What I did not know at the time was that this puppy was Liora's brother.


Once I learned from their passports that Liora and Sabra were siblings, and after Karis contacted me, I suggested that the new mothers arrange a reunion. And what a reunion it was! The siblings raced for one another, leapt joyfully, and could not stop holding, touching and playing with each other. They lay on their sides facing one another, a ball between their mouths, so visibly bonded, they seemed like one being. From that day forward, Liora's nightmares were a thing of the past.






At a second reunion, to which I had the great fortune of being invited, I was deeply moved by the strong connection and love between the two dogs. They are inseparable and clearly take joy from looking at, touching, and interacting with each other. These days, the two have frequent playdates and an occasional sleepover at Karis' house.


The thirty-nine puppies brought to the US were placed in homes throughout four states. Surely the hand of fate played a role in seeing that Liora and Sabra, who so needed one another, ended up in homes just ten minutes apart!




Birthday July 2010: Now we are FOUR!