Olive’s Search

A miracle happened at Horizon over the holidays involving a traumatized dog named Rue, and Olive, a husky mix belonging to our operations manager. We are so excited to share that story.

Devon, our operations manager adopted her wonderful girl, Olive, from Alljoy 4 Paws in October of 2022. It was a hard choice after saying goodbye to her love of over 15 years, but there was something in that little face that called to her and her partner.

Olive saved a dog’s life recently here at Horizon and we wanted to share the story.

Devon has worked in the veterinary field for over 17 years and has never heard of anything like this!

On December 24th, a dog was hit by a car and his owners brought him to an emergency hospital close to our hospital for emergency care. They arrived at the hospital just before 11 pm. The hospital was closed but before they realized this, they had opened the car door. Sadly, the dog was so traumatized that he bolted.

The owners searched all night, all the next day and night, asking for help from friends, family, the hospital staff, and eventually, help from our hospital as well. They contacted Devon grasping at straws and asking to see our surveillance footage in hopes of finding some clues and asking if he had been spotted recently.

They spent time reviewing the footage, though they doubted it would provide any information that would assist in finding their dog, Ruger, whom they called “Rue.” Devon wanted to help this family find their Rue but did not have much to offer beyond her experience, so she suggested the usual—I​f there’s a gate at home and someone is available, leave the gate open while they wait nearby in case he is trying to get home; if there was another dog at home that Rue might try coming home to (they only had Rue at this time), or we discussed walking around where Rue bolted with food and treats.

After talking, Devon thought of something that was REALLY grasping at straws, but she wanted to support this family. She asked the owner if Rue was friendly and learned he was very friendly. She then asked her partner to bring their very young husky mix, Olive, to her at work. They had discussed doing scent work with her because she is great at locating their cats when they would ask her, and she enjoyed following scents on their walks.

Olive not only has a great nose, but she doesn’t see strangers—every dog, person, or cat she sees she wants to meet and share with—she will even try and gently play with a spider if she finds one.

Devon explained to the owners that Olive had demonstrated both interest and skill in scent work but had NO formal training. She had Olive smell Rue’s leash, collar, and jacket they brought him to the hospital in and then let her sniff the trail of footprints/blood droplets near the hospital and local business park. As she sniffed these items Devon said, “That’s Rue, Olive. We have to find Rue, now go find Rue.” After that, Devon let Olive pull her in almost any direction she wanted, and man, did she pull. On this walk she never wanted to stop—she truly acted as a dog on a mission.

Devon had no way of determining if Olive was really “scenting,” but she never stopped pulling her forward—to the point Devon got shin splints—so she let her keep going. As they walked, she kept saying, “Where is he? Go find Rue,” and, for extra encouragement, Devon told her she would be rewarded with an ice cream if she found him.

They had started the walk with Rue’s owners, but after a few minutes, they were on their own. After about an hour and a half, Olive was looking pretty tired, she did not seem very engaged anymore and Devon was feeling a bit silly about her attempt to help. She was concerned she had given the owners false hope instead of results. She decided after they finished their large circle around the multi-part business complex, they would stop. Devon needed to return to work anyway. Before they returned to our hospital, Olive’s lead took them to a massive begonia bush.

Then she got very interested in the bush. This bush is huge, about a block long, thick, and full of huge thorns. She stayed in one spot, went a little forward and it looked like there were two large paw prints walking into an opening in the bush. She started tracking the bush back the way we had come and she fought being redirected. Devon called the owners over but reminded them it could be nothing and, again, that Olive was not trained in this capacity.

They were looking through the bush for 15 minutes while they were calling Rue. Devon thought she had falsely raised their hopes and was adding to their pain.

Then, on the opposite end from where Olive originally locked onto the bush she froze with her head in the bush and her eyes went wide. It took Devon a minute to realize she was pointing! She moved the bush and didn’t see anything. She tried to pull her away, but Olive held strong and refused. As Devon was attempting to pull her, she pulled back and shoved her face down into the mulch inside the bush. A huge shadow rose within the bush, scaring Devon and exciting Olive. Then Devon realized the shadow had the shape of a head! She moved what she could out of the bush and there he was! He wasn’t moving with his owners calling right next to him but Olive found him and woke him up! He was terrified, exhausted, and in pain but as he came to he wagged his tail as his family cried and hugged him.

Olive was the best girl and she got all the love and praise, and, of course, her ice cream.