The calls began after 10 p.m. on Tuesday night.
“This is 911”
“I’d like to report a lion sighting.”
“Say that again?”
Yes, a lion was loose on the streets of Norfolk, VA. Callers reported it stalking prey and ripping into gazelles. Well, actually, they said it was just walking around. What the callers didn’t know is that Charles the Monarch had recently been groomed. Who is Charles the Monarch? First, some more 911 calls:
“I don’t know if it got away from the zoo or what,” said one caller.
“There was a lion that ran across the street — a baby lion,” said another. “It was about the size of a Labrador Retriever.”
“Aha!” said the dispatcher. “Then might you be in fact seeing a Labrador Retriever on the residential streets of Norfolk, not a lion?” he continued, banging his head repeatedly against his desk.
BAM. BAM. BAM.
Actually, that’s not true. We don’t have the dispatcher’s side of this story. But the important part is that a righteous woman named Natalie Painter creatively groomed her Labradoodle because she wanted him to look like a lion, because the both of them are awesome.
And she also wanted him to look like Big Blue, the mascot of Old Dominion University, because, well, football.
And then some people called 911, because some people cannot not call 911, and police called the zoo, because they had to. Charles the Monarch, however, just went home to Natalie. She told ABC News that the dog is often mistaken for a lion.
“It happens all the time,” she said. “It’s really funny. I’m used to the attention but when I’m on campus, I’ll bring him to roam around while I do homework outside and I see students and faculty running around with cameras after him. It’s like he’s in The Beatles.”
“He’s 4 years old. He’s been a lion ever since we’ve had him. We always bring him to all the football games. He’s a little local celebrity when it comes to football season, but it always catches people off guard.”