A Thank You Story with Gratitude: The Runaway Whippet of La Jolla

Joni Lovci holding Andrea the whippet.
Joni Lovci holding Andrea the whippet.

By Joni Lovci

There are senseless moments in life when devastating gratuitous pain and adversity render us speechless and sobbing in the wake of human suffering. September 11. The horrific wildfires in San Diego. A lost and frightened whippet roaming the streets of La Jolla for three days.  (Well, at least to me, his owner, this event ranked right up there with the big ones.)

Paradoxically and fortunately, these are also the moments when true magic occurs in the universe, when people hold your hand and touch your heart, when despair is transformed into beauty and gratitude. These are the moments that restore your faith that the world is indeed a magnificent place in which to live.

I’d like to share the following such moment with the people of La Jolla as a way to express my gratitude to many of them:

Andrea the whippet bolted out of my physical therapist’s office on Fay Street at noon on Columbus Day, Oct. 10. I had taken my dog with me to physical therapy because he was four days out of surgery for a serious leg laceration. He wore a wide “bite not” protective collar and needed monitoring.

During his escapade, he ran loose for three days, and was sighted on Girard, La Jolla Boulevard, La Jolla Cove, and the Children’s Seal Pool before he was finally apprehended and recovered


days later.

One minute Andrea was securely snoozing next to me on the massage table. The next minute he had made his way to an open reception area door and was bounding down the stairs en route to Girard Avenue. I knew my too-smart-for-his-own-good boy had exploited human error, when I heard the panicked voice of my therapist Nick, yelling, “Andrea! Andrea!” and then heard the thump, thump, thump! of fleeing dog paws down the steep, concrete staircase.

Nick was in hot pursuit by the time I found Andrea’s leash and hobbled down the stairs in a vain attempt to join the sprinters. I searched for about four blocks before I was exhausted and turned back to the office to get my car keys and cell phone for what was to be a six-hour search without catching a glimpse of Andrea.

A woman named


said she had cornered him and attempted to catch him at an intersection on Dowling, but by the time I drove by, Andrea had apparently moved on. I continued on my search and drove for hours, intermittently parking the car, opening the door, calling his name, getting out and searching on foot — always just missing him, or so others told me.

I didn’t get many names, but here are some of the heroes:

• Thanks to the

folks at the veterinary clinic on Fay Avenue

that I raced into, who took Andrea’s description and my cell phone number.

• Thanks to the

two gardeners

who completely stopped their work and escorted me down the street they had witnessed the wayward whippet running. Or as they described it:  “Black dog. Fast.”



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