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For grandparents, a dog-gone day we’ll never forget

Joseph Levanti, born April 17, 2018, at Stony

Joseph Levanti, born April 17, 2018, at Stony Brook Medical Center to Melanie and Joe Levanti of Centereach. With him is his family's dog, Lizzy, a Brittany-pointer-pit bull mix. Credit: Melanie Levanti

My husband and I were dog-sitting Lizzy, our daughter Melanie’s Brittany-pointer-pit bull mix, at our home in South Setauket on April 17 while Melanie was in the early stages of labor at Stony Brook University Hospital.

Under usual circumstances, the moments preceding the birth of a grandbaby are unbridled joyful anticipation. Little did my husband, Tom, and I know that we would suddenly be part of a harrowing canine adventure.

We received a text from our son-in-law, Joe Levanti, that Melanie was “at eight centimeters.” Tom and I sprang from our chairs in lightning-quick unison. It’s a tradition in our immediate family to wait at the hospital for a birth. This would be Melanie and Joe’s first child, and our third grandchild.

I wanted to give Melanie a kiss and wish her good luck before she delivered. But would we get to the hospital in time?

“You take Lizzy out before we leave, and I’ll be waiting for you in the car!” I told Tom.

The car engine hummed as I waited impatiently. I saw my husband walk out the front door — but then out shot Lizzy. A second later, she was sprinting down our residential street with boundless strength and glory.

My husband ran after the dog, and I followed in our Honda Civic.

There was no stopping her.

“Lizzy! Lizzy!” we screamed as dread gripped our hearts. We chased her up and down our street.

“She’s running onto Wireless Road!” we both screamed with fear.

Lizzy dashed back and forth across the busy street as cars whizzed by.

My husband kept up his chase on foot, zigzagging across Wireless Road.

I was now concerned for his safety and screamed out my car window, “Tom! Don’t get run over! Be careful when you cross the street!”

Within minutes, traffic was virtually stopped on Wireless Road. A half-dozen Good Samaritans got out of their cars to help.

Visions of our daughter giving birth flashed in my head. The last thing we wanted was to be bearers of bad news about their precious pet on the same day their son would be born.

After 35 minutes, we began to doubt if we’d ever catch the elusive Lizzy. Soon, though, she ran into a safer residential area and then back to our street. With the help of the six kind strangers, we corralled her within a few anxious minutes. My spirits soared as my husband finally grabbed Lizzy’s collar. Everyone cheered, and we thanked the helpers profusely. People such as these make me proud to be part of the human race.

With Lizzy safely back inside, we drove straight to the hospital and were able to see our daughter in the delivery room. We went to the waiting room before she gave birth to our beautiful grandson, Joseph Thomas Levanti.

My husband and I are forever grateful to the kind strangers who might have saved Lizzy’s life — and who enabled us to be there at the beginning of a precious new one.

Patricia Schaefer lives in South Setauket.

CORRECTION: The pedigree of Lizzy has been updated. An incorrect description appeared in an earlier version of this essay and its photo caption.