Andrea Engel, RN, LMT, CPT

Aesthetic RN, Ashiatus massage therapist, health coach near Rhinelander, Wisconsin.


Levin The Mystery Boy

From nearly dead in April 2022
Super athlete less than a year later!

WinnerHere’s how this all came together….

I’ve been an avid mountain biker since 2008. I fell ill in October of 2021. I struggled with frequent low grade fevers, debilitating fatigue and myriad other symptoms. You know how it feels in the days following a hard exercise session, when your legs are still feeling the burn? Well, mine felt like that if I tried to bike up a hill of any sort right away. I missed out on autumn rides and then I missed out on most of snow biking season. Early in 2022 I was thoroughly depressed. I felt terrible and wondered if I was dying. There were no answers for my condition.

A friend gave me the idea to try biking with canine help! At the time we had 2 dogs. An elderly Boston Terrier/Pug mix and a 4 year old Australian Cattle Dog. Certainly she loves to learn and to please. I trained her to pull and the basic commands. With just a little help, I was able to ride. It was such a thrill to be back on the bike! However, after a time or two, my sweet girl let me know that she is a herding dog and while she will gladly trot by my side all day long, pulling is not her jam. I found someone with a sled dog team looking to rehome a beautiful 5 year old Alaskan Husky, who knew how to pull but after about 20 miles didn’t enjoy it anymore. Seeing as how I typically go 6-12 miles, it seemed a perfect fit. Unfortunately, after 6 weeks or so she was not adjusting well to being a house dog without a Husky pack. She was the saddest girl, even in harness, and would cower when I even got it out to go biking. She didn’t really pull for me either besides brief half-hearted efforts. We sent her back to her pack and she was happily playing the next day (she did not play here at all). After that experience, and not being able to walk her off leash like we do with the other dogs, I was hesitant to try another Husky. I asked my sled dog friend for recommendations, and she mentioned that German Shorthair Pointers are quite popular in “dryland mushing”. While I had a thing for pointy-eared Nordic breeds, I felt very open to other options at that point. A dog should be 1 1/2-2 years old to pull things, so a puppy wasn’t an option. I searched the humane societies in my state and found one sad looking boy.

May 2022

I emailed the Taylor County Humane Society to ask more… he was found as a stray apparently. He was emaciated, had wounds all over (mostly bony prominences), non-regenerative anemia, and was in medical foster care. I thanked them and said I hope he finds a good home, but I was looking for an athletic type and didn’t think it would be fair to expect that of this boy after what he had been through. He was 32#. and approximately a year old. His foster mom gave him IV fluids and hourly feedings. She slept by him at night. He was unable to warm himself.

In April of 2022 he was found trotting down a road in a sparsely populated area outside of Medford, Wisconsin. A couple was out clearing brush in their UTV if I understand correctly and saw him. They immediately called the humane society and his life was saved.

A couple of weeks after my contact with the shelter manager, I received an email stating they expected “Walker” to make a complete recovery and encouraged me to apply. His foster parents and veterinarian had him gaining weight steadily. It appeared that he was neglected and kept in a small, hard space, hence the pressure wounds. I know that this dog is also not the type to run away. He’s been enjoying our regular off-leash walks since a couple weeks after we brought him home. I find it so bizarre the circumstances and location he was found in. No one claimed him. He’s a purebred German Shorthair Pointer with a properly docked tail and dewclaws removed. He loves to go all day and snuggle all night.

We went for a meet and greet in May. He had gained sufficient weight to be neutered. We were just one of several families hoping to adopt him, so I tried not getting excited while the decision was made. When I got the call, it felt like we won the lottery 🙂

The trio – Willow the Bugg, Kyah the Cattle Dog, Levin the GSP

I can’t say enough good about the foster family that cared so well for him! What wonderful people! We still stay in touch, so they can see how well he is doing. I renamed him “Levin” which is Old Germanic and means both “dear friend” and “joined”. He’s slept in our bed, between us ever since. He’s a healthy 52# and gives new meaning to the term “active breed”. Keeps us very busy making sure he has enough exercise and entertainment every day. His favorite thing is to play fetch. Anywhere, anytime!

As for bikejoring, he’s a natural as long as you don’t mind an occasional excursion for squirrels! We have several videos on YouTube. He’s a natural! I’ve been having so much fun and he seems to enjoy it as well! We generally stick to singletrack. I can finally keep up with my fast husband 🙂 I am working on regaining my health yet, and it’s coming along. However, even on days that I feel lousy, I can go ride with my husband and friends. I’m helping the best I can by pedaling the bike but I can say, when we first get going it’s crazy fast. This good boy has helped me so much.

We even tried a couple of fat bikejoring races this winter. We won all three times we’ve tried it. In putting this blog together, I was looking back at our first attempt last summer. We’ve come a long way as a team since then! It’s sooooo fun working together in this way. Here is a video clip of our race start recently. I absolutely love Levin’s enthusiasm.

It’s amazing what love and calories can do! I’m astounded at what a can-do attitude this dog has. Anything, anytime, and anyone want to play fetch??

Paddle boarding

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  1. I’ve been following Levin since day one of him being found. I was beyond angry, I had recently lost my GSP and that someone could do that to him when I missed my dog so much made me cry. I wanted to adopt him but it wasn’t in the cards at the time. I hoped and prayed he would have a full recovery and go to a good home. I was wondering about him the other day. I am so happy to hear he is doing so well. 🥲😁

    1. I’m sorry to hear you lost your GSP. They really are special. Thank you for this comment. Does my heart good. I know Walker/Levin had a lot of people rooting for him. Now he’s a crazy man. Currently post-walk, fetching for nearly 3 hours and not at all ready to slow down. Haha! Sure keeps us active 🙂

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