This weekend Susan Davis and Janet Young plan a reunion. They only met a week ago, but now have a common bond: a Husky named Legend that Young rescued from the path of passing cars on Coast Highway more than a mile from Davis’ home. Laguna police dispatchers figure in the outcome as well.
Davis received a phone call about 8:30 a.m. Sunday, Aug. 30 from Young, an Aliso Viejo resident who was training with friends at Thousand Steps Beach for a 9-11 Memorial Stair Climb that honors firefighters.
Young noticed the dog drinking at the shower, but was rebuffed when she asked the 30 or so people on the beach if the dog was theirs. When the dog ascended the 13 flights of stairs and headed along Coast Highway, Young enlisted her friends to stop traffic as the dog made its way between parked cars. She grabbed the dog by the scruff of the neck and guided him to her nearby car. “He jumped right in,” she said, noting that he looked tired and was covered in sand.
Earlier, Davis had contacted a Dana Point animal control officer, who assured her that someone would find her missing dog and also suggested she contact the Laguna Beach police department. Davis was skeptical since Legend, who was missing when Davis woke up, wasn’t wearing his tags.
Laguna police dispatcher Jordan Villwock took Davis’ panicked call around 6:30 a.m. and collected her contact information since animal control officers were not yet on duty. “They took it very seriously,” she said.
Legend, a rescue taken in by Davis six years ago, suffers from seizures. Davis thought maybe Legend had suffered a seizure and in the adrenaline rush that follows jumped the fence of her Dana Point home despite his hip dysplasia.
She and her husband unsuccessfully searched the neighborhood. Neighbors pitched in to aid in the hunt and flyers were posted throughout the gated community.
Meanwhile, once Young had corralled the wandering dog in her car, she called the Laguna Beach Animal Shelter. After getting no answer, she queried a lifeguard who stopped at the Ninth Street entry to Thousand Steps; he suggested she call Laguna police.
When Young did, dispatcher Michelle Bowen realized the stray the caller described was the missing Husky reported by Davis. Bowen provided Young a phone number.
Both Young and Davis shed tears when they met in the Gelson’s parking lot, where Davis was putting up color posters with Legend’s photo. “We know the police department has many other priorities. We can’t begin to express our thanks for the extra time and effort they took to help us find our dog,” Davis said.
“I felt connected to Legend,” said Young, who told Davis if she ever needed a dog walker or pet sitter to give her a call.
Later, Villwock called Davis to check on the dog’s welfare. Young returned to her workout at the beach and found a group of local firefighters also running the stairs. “It was a great day,” she said.