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Dash’s Last Lesson

One Lost Pup Helps Save Another

Dash | Credit: Courtesy

Olivia Davi’s heart broke last year when her beloved dog Dash, above, escaped from her yard and never returned. A recent chance encounter with another runaway helped her find some much-needed closure.


Maybe this was never about me. Maybe it was never really about Dash. Maybe the story was always about them ​— ​this couple and their dog Nala, who ran off after being spooked by something at the park.

I had rushed away from a work party to mail something to my friend when I saw her roaming around on the corner of Montecito and Quarantina streets looking tired, dehydrated, and scared.

I pulled my scooter over. I knew what I had to do. Losing Dash taught me. Never lunge at a lost dog. Never grab at them. Get down on the ground. Do not yell but speak softly and wait.

Nala was hesitant and uneasy. Untrusting. She walked up to me and backed away quickly. She walked over to me a second time and then ran a few feet. I did not move. I did not push. She walked up to me a third time, and stayed. Slowly, she let herself relax. She let me pet her, hold her. She eventually lay down and let me give her water.

Photo: CourtesyNala is reunited with her owners.

I called county and city animal control, which were both closed. I called 9-1-1 as instructed by their answering machines and gave a report. I posted photos from my phone to Nextdoor with a detailed description of our location, the time of day, what Nala looked like, and that she was safe. I provided my phone number and name.

A man brought her a bigger bowl of water, and another said he saw the owners looking for her and that we should go find them. But I knew better. Losing Dash taught me. They will find us. Do not make it harder for them to find her. Just stay.

When the owners found us, they collapsed to the ground, too.

I’ve never seen anything so beautiful in my entire life. The love I had right there in front of me. I could reach out and touch it. I could tell them what I had so desperately wished to hear: “It’s okay. She’s here. She’s safe.”

The question I’ve been asking myself since I lost the light of my life on March 17, 2018, is why? Why did this have to happen to us? Why Dash? Why my sweet boy?

The answer is them. It’s always been them. That moment when they first embraced. Their loving tears of relief and gratitude. How I knew exactly what to do because of everything I’d learned. And I’ve now been given this gift: to give two people and their dog something I was not able to give myself.

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