Modern technology and old-fashioned Good Samaritan-ship came together to give the Stuart family of Upper Hermosa what they call a “Christmas miracle” — the return of their dog, Luna, after she went missing Dec. 8.
To find the two-and-a-half pound Yorkie, the family posted the loss on the neighborhood-based social media website nextdoor.com, but in the end, it was a good-hearted neighbor with an unexpected connection to the family who found and returned little Luna.
“Without everything coming together, this would have never happened ... for our family, this was a one-in-a-million thing. It was a Christmas miracle,” said matriarch Susan Stuart.
The family lives between the coastal bluffs and busy La Jolla Boulevard, so when Luna went missing, Stuart said they feared the worst. But for as many things as could have gone wrong, that’s how many things went right to locate Luna.
“We were at the La Jolla Tennis Club with a group my daughter started to bring tennis to children with autism,” Stuart told La Jolla Light. “Around 2 p.m., the babysitter called to say Luna was missing and he had combed the neighborhood to find her. Needless to say, I was beside myself.
“I rushed home and started to call her name up and down the street, looking everywhere. But first, I searched the house, thinking she was in my room sleeping or under something. After we searched the whole house, we worked on the perimeter. When my other children came home, we all divided and conquered. I was losing my mind, I didn’t know I would be so thrown off.”
A family friend recommended Stuart post the news that her dog was missing on nextdoor.com and put fliers up with Luna’s photo.
“There was this incredible outpouring of support, advice, prayers and good wishes from the community,” Stuart said. “My cousin told me to pray to Saint Anthony and Saint Francis, so I did. It was a big wow. I feel blessed to live in La Jolla for the obvious stuff — the beautiful sunsets and the fun stores — but the greatest blessings are the people who live around us.”
From there, she contacted Babs Fry, a San Diego resident on a mission to help locate lost pets. Fry recommended posting to Facebook, Craigslist and websites dedicated to finding missing pets, and gave the Stuarts advice for what to put on the posters they were hanging around town.
“She stold us most dogs find their way home and to be there in case she came back,” Stuart explained. “So I stayed home, which was hard. I paced around and every few minutes would go outside and call her name. My neighbors must have thought I was howling at the moon. It was a long night.”
The next morning, Stuart got a text message from a family friend indicating there was a post on nextdoor.com announcing a dog had been found.
“The (poster) hadn’t seen my post, but she was in Bird Rock, so I immediately got in touch with her,” Stuart said. “I asked if I could come by and get the dog and she offered to bring it to our house. It was the longest five minutes of my life. We were all outside in our pajamas when she pulled up, and there was Luna.”
As it turned out, Luna’s finder (who Stuart called an “angel from heaven”) was the mom of one of the Stuart children’s classmates at Bird Rock Elementary School: Kim Leek.
“(My friend) Tessa’s mommy brought Luna back!” said 6-year-old Mary-Grace, one of the Stuart’s six children.
Stuart explained: “Kim said she found Luna shaking and barking at her door. When she brought Luna back to us, she brought along her two kids, and when my kids saw her kids, we realized there was this connection. I wanted to give her the sun and the moon and the stars, but she said she was just relieved we got our dog back and her reward was making sure Luna got home.
“I am so proud to be a La Jollan right now. This experience made me realize there are really good people in the world. We are so grateful for (Kim) and realize the best presents aren’t in boxes or under a tree, they are the people in our community.”