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Kevin Marshall
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RIP Levi 2003-2015

Levi the Chinese water dragon passed away peacefully last night.

I adopted her as a hatchling in 2003 just before my sophomore year in college. She was a rescue from the PNHS (Pacific Northwest Herpetological Society), which nursed her back to health after she was returned to Petco on death's door. She came with some antibiotic syringes that I had to inject to keep the burns on her back from becoming infected. She managed to tough through it, though, and it wasn't long before the wounds healed and she started putting some meat on her bones.

Once I was sure that she was going to pull through, I named her Levi (short for "leviathan", or sea monster.) I thought she was a male, too, since she was too young to be sexed. (Assuming she was male by default = oops, unconscious bias.) A couple of years later I found out she was female, but I was too used to calling her Levi to change it by that point. The name/gender mismatch provoked a lot of questions over the years, so I'm used to telling this story. ;)

During my college years, Levi had free reign of my little bedroom while I studied. She hung out on my shoulder, rested on my belly, and at the end of the night we'd play game of hide and seek, since she was a pro at finding nooks and crannies in my furnishings, and crashing in them. I'd have to turn my bedroom upside down before I'd find her. She'd accompany us when my housemates and I were having dinner and hanging out with drinks afterward, and she was a good sport about it even though I'd sometimes keep her out past her bedtime.

Levi was my regular companion to my first job at Tegic Communications in Seattle. My apartment was just down the street from the office, so I'd smuggle her in between clothing layers on my walk to work. Her space was a big open wall-mounted locking cabinet, which had a lamp and a hot rock set up for her. I'd sneak her in to the mail room for her drinks, where she'd lap water from the utility sink. My coworkers became very attached to her, many of them would pay her visits as they stopped by. They'd want to hold her and talk to her in soft, high-pitched voices. When I left Tegic, I'd swear that people were more emotional about Levi's departure than my own. It's OK, I didn't mind. ;)

I'm really happy that Cedric took to Levi as much as he did. I felt some trepidation about the stigma of owning an exotic pet, that it would mark me as weird or undateable. Quite the opposite happened with Cedric. He became attached to her so quickly. Levi was part of the package, and he was so happy when the two of us moved in to his house. She'd join us for every weekend brunch, especially the ones we'd have outside when the weather was warm enough. We'd share our fruit with her, and a couple times we snuck her a bit of crepe. We'd handle her after stressful days at work, and just focusing on her placid demeanor and slow breathing would quickly calm us down, too. Sometimes she'd inspire us to join us in her naps - see the end of the photo gallery.

Her disposition was very gentle and relaxed with people. She would turn bright green when we held her, snuggling up in the warmth of our body heat, usually nodding off before long. Sometimes she'd hop right on your hand in greeting when you'd stick your hand in her enclosure. I know that lizards don't experience mammalian concepts like love, but I think that Cedric and I were linked to positive associations in her primitive little brain. We didn't expect too much demonstrativeness out of her... but sometimes she'd surprise us.

We'll miss her.
Levi's Highlight Reel
25 Photos - View album

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Now you can finally update to iOS 6 without any regrets.

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Ambling about downtown Seattle, enjoying the sun and harvesting #ingress  goodies around town for future remittance to the Eastside. Kirkland is now glowing  with the sickly green of the Enlightenment. This cannot stand!
November 25, 2012 (4 photos)
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