Bud, Rudy together again

By Kathy Day

Staff Writer

Bud and his owner are together again, but not before athlete Rudy Garcia-Tolson worried for 13 days after his dog disappeared before the Challenged Athletes Triathlon.

Garcia-Tolson lost Bud, his black Labrador, in La Jolla Shores on Oct. 19 while his owner was staying at the La Jolla Beach & Tennis Club and training for the weekend event.

After an appeal from La Jolla Shores resident Stacey Willis and coverage by the Light and local TV stations, the dog turned up at the Hilton at Torrey Pines. An employee found him in the parking area, Willis said.

Garcia-Tolson, a double, above-the-knee amputee who lives and trains at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs has had the dog for eight years and said he wouldn’t go back without his companion.

On Thursday, with Bud back, Garcia-Tolson said he was heading home on Sunday.

“I’m just super excited to have him back,” he said. The dog is bit thinner after his 13-day outing, but “he’s pretty happy to be home.”

He added his “thanks to all the wonderful people of La Jolla,” because without them, Bud might not have been found.

The dog was taken to the animal shelter at 9 a.m. Wednesday morning, and Willis was there shortly afterward. She had seen a poster about Bud and then encountered Garci-Tolson who was pushing himself around on his skateboard looking for the dog. An injury was preventing him from wearing his prosthetics at the time, she noted.

She took up the cause of finding Bud and was overjoyed when she heard that he might have been found.

She called Garcia-Tolson after getting to the shelter to tell him it was really his dog.

“Rudy came and got him at about 6,” she wrote in an e-mail late Wednesday. ”They are reunited and it was the cutest thing to see when Bud saw Rudy!”

On Thursday, she added, “I think that sometimes we forget the impact animals have on our lives. After seeing them reunited, I knew how much they needed each other.”