Upgrading Blaze: Vail’s ‘Dog Celebrity’ Receives $ 2.3K in ACL Surgery Donations
Daniel Levine has lived in the Vail area for over 11 years. And although he has been employed in many local organizations and businesses over the years – working everywhere from the Four Seasons and the Town of Vail to working on golf courses and as a ski instructor both at Vail and Copper – he’s best known as the companion of his 10-year-old, 100-pound German Shepherd, Blaze.
“He’s my whole identity,” Levine said. “He’s just a magical, mystical creature.”
That’s why, when Blaze quickly and unexpectedly tore up his ACL on May 5 while playing fetch, Levine decided – under the encouragement of a few friends – to set up a GoFundMe page to raise money for the cost. of his surgery.
“He never lets me look for him but for the first time he let me put him on my shoulders and take him home,” said. “I was hoping it might be just a sprain, however, after I got back to the vet, [I learned] it was a complete ACL tear.
Levine didn’t hesitate to have surgery for Blaze. “He’s part of the family. You don’t think twice, you just look for a way to fix it, ”he said.
Levine first had Blaze when she was eight weeks old, just three weeks after moving to the village of Middle Creek in Vail. Since then, the dynamic duo have had a morning walk routine in Vail Village, making Blaze something of a “local canine celebrity,” according to Levine.
“He knows the village like the back of his paw,” Levine said. “He’ll run to Yeti’s Grind and all the girls there will give him treats, then we’ll go to Local Joe’s in Patagonia, they love him at Patagonia.”
The couple have been through quite a bit over the years. Twice now, first in 2010 and recently in 2019, Blaze has been attacked by other dogs, each time resulting in surgery to reconstruct his face and repair the damage.
“I was really worried that it might make him a little nervous or traumatic, but he’s just the sweetest dog. It was like nothing had happened, he’s such a soldier, ”Levine said, noting that outside of the two attacks, Blaze had a“ 100% clean health check ”.
And when Levine himself broke his leg, also twice – first at the Loveland Ski Area in 2014 and again at Copper in 2016 – Blaze took care of him, stabilizing him while maneuvering around the ice and stars on crutches, bringing him his prescriptions and giving him some much-needed TLC.
And now Levine is ready to repay the favor as he helps rehabilitate Blaze through a recovery process that can take four to six months. Blaze underwent surgery on Friday May 14th and everything went well. After staying in the hospital for a few days, he is preparing to return home on May 17, ready for the long recovery to come.
“I’m a little nervous, I’m not going to lie, he’s a big boy and it’s going to be a lot of work,” Levine said. “It’s going to be an interesting six months.”
So far, Levine has raised nearly $ 2,300 of his goal of $ 3,500 to cover the cost of Blaze’s surgery. “I was just so grateful for all the contributions everyone has made to me, I’m just in shock; I wasn’t really expecting it. It was awesome, ”he said.
To learn more about Blaze and Levine and to donate for Blaze’s ACL surgery, visit gofund.me/0483f2cd.
Journalist Ali Longwell can be reached at [email protected]