• Washington Post

Nobody Wanted Elvis the Dog. Then a Former Elvis Impersonator Saw Him.

Photo by Drew Wilhelm.
Loren Agron enjoys some quiet time with Elvis on the sofa at home in Chicago.

There was just one dog left behind, and his name was Elvis.

The other 61 dogs and cats at the Chicago shelter event were adopted on the same day, leaving Elvis, a white and gray pup, the only pet sent back to the shelter where he’d lived for about four months.

The pet rescue organization Anti-Cruelty Society took to Facebook the following day, explaining that Elvis was brought to them as a stray with a fractured pelvis, which had since healed.

“He met a lot of potential adopters, but sadly did not get adopted,” the Nov. 14 post read.

“Elvis is a 3-year-old meatball that has the silliest personality,” the post continued. “His giant smile lights up every room he enters. Elvis is a snuggler, so he hopes you are okay giving up your personal space.”

The post also noted that Elvis, a pit bull-terrier mix, had been potty-trained and crate-trained, but would probably be prone to arthritis in the future due to his fracture.

Drew Wilhelm could not believe his eyes when he saw a story on Chicago WGN9 about Elvis. He sent it to his partner, Loren Agron. The couple had talked about adopting a dog, but were still mulling over the idea.

Agron said he was smitten by the photos of Elvis smiling with his tongue hanging out. But the real reason he felt a sudden connection to Elvis is that Agron was an Elvis impersonator.

Agron, 39, is a manager at Ed Debevic’s, a 1950s-themed diner known for snarky waitstaff and choreographed dance numbers on the soda counter. When he worked as a waiter at the restaurant from 2005 to 2007, Agron dressed up as Elvis Presley and called himself “Elvis Parsley.”

“I wore a black cowboy shirt and quintessential giant Elvis sunglasses, I had long sideburns and my hair was all pomped up and slicked back,” he said. “I’d get up onstage in the diner and sing ‘Teddy Bear’ to entertain all the customers.”

“Elvis has always been a big part of my life because I’ve always loved music from that era,” he added.

Agron went to the shelter the following day to meet Elvis. They played around on the floor with Elvis’s favorite toy, a stuffed moose with tennis balls for feet.

“I loved him immediately,” Agron said. “Having a pup named Elvis seemed like a perfect fit.”

Agron returned to the shelter to introduce Elvis to Wilhelm, his partner for the past year and a half.

“While we were sitting in the waiting room to meet him, I felt like a father waiting for his newborn son to arrive,” said Wilhelm, 43, manager of a Chicago cocktail lounge.

“As soon as I saw him, I knew that was our dog,” he said.

“He couldn’t stop jumping on us, he was so excited we were there to see him,” Wilhelm said.

He and Agron adopted Elvis that day, Nov. 17, prompting the Anti-Cruelty Society to post on Facebook that “Elvis has LEFT the building!”

When the pair took Elvis home to their two-bedroom apartment near Lake Michigan’s Foster Beach, the pup sniffed around and left no doubt that he was “The King,” said Wilhelm, referring to one of Presley’s nicknames.

“The anxiety of the shelter just melted away,” Wilhelm said. “We learned right away that Elvis loves to lounge. He took free range of every chair in the apartment, plus the bed.”

Elvis made it known that he loved peanut butter and anything bacon flavored, said Agron. Those also were some of Elvis the singer’s famously favorite foods.

“Even though he waited a long time in the shelter, we’re glad he wasn’t adopted, because he’s our family now,” he said.

He and Wilhelm have settled into a comfortable routine with their pup, taking him on walks, playing fetch and tug-of-war and relaxing together on the sofa when Elvis doesn’t claim it for himself.

“He’s just an adorable goofball,” Wilhelm said. “We love how he’s made himself at home.”

Staffers at the Anti-Cruelty Society are also thrilled that Elvis now has a home.

“We were all so sad for Elvis when he was the only one left after our ‘Fall in Love’ waived adoption fee event,” said Rachel Klousnitzer, senior director of marketing and communications for the animal nonprofit.

“We’re grateful that people all over the country are now invested in Elvis’s story, and we can’t stress enough that we see dogs like Elvis waiting for their forever homes every day,” she added.

Wilhelm said he hopes to keep the Elvis momentum going, and that people will think about whether adopting a pet is right for them.

“When nobody wanted Elvis, we took him home, and I’m so glad we did,” Wilhelm said. “Even though he only leaves me a sliver of the bed.”

Photo courtesy of Anti-Cruelty Society
Loren Agron, left, and Drew Wilhelm with Elvis on Nov. 17, when they adopted the dog from the Anti-Cruelty Society shelter.