When Amina passed away, I was in Las Vegas for a conference. It was quite difficult to be away from the family and by the end of my trip, I was very much ready to get back home. Three days after Amina died (and on my last full day in town), I got up early, hopped into my rental car, and headed to the edge of town to go for a slightly crazy run in the desert. It was a hot day — it got up to 99 and was already 80, just a few hours after the sun had come up. I headed east on Tropicana Ave, a heavily traveled road with three lanes in each direction. On a section of the road with no shoulder between the street and the sidewalk, I spotted a white dog walking off-leash with no people near him.

At the next street, I turned around and found a parking lot nearby to stop my car. Fortunately, a woman on a bike was riding by and had stopped to pet the dog, which kept him from stepping out into the street. I approached them slowly and asked, “Is that your dog?” She said he wasn’t and she didn’t seem particularly interested in helping find out who he belonged to. I knelt down and pet the sweet dog, patting his head, scratching his neck, and then slowly grabbing hold of his collar. He had no tags. I told the woman I’d take care of him and she biked away. I held onto his collar and brought him along with me to the next street which had a row of townhouses. I found one man in his garage and asked if he’d ever seen the dog before and he said he hadn’t. I then asked if he had a leash I might be able to use. He disappeared inside his house and brought out a small strap. It wasn’t a leash, but it was better than nothing, so I tied it onto his collar and led the dog back to where I was parked.

I knelt down to pet him and talk to him some more. His fur draped over his eyes and was slightly matted in various places, but otherwise he was healthy and happy. He loved the attention, nuzzling my chest and rolling over on his back for a tummy rub.

Christiano - pet my belly!

I weighed my options. I definitely didn’t want to take him to a shelter where he might be killed. I started thinking, “How can I sneak him into my hotel room for the night?” I didn’t have a smartphone at that time, so I called home to Huyen and had her search for a no-kill shelter nearby. Thankfully, she found the Nevada SPCA, which was no-kill and since it was Monday, it was open. I said, “Come on, boy. We’re going for a ride.” I figured Advantage might not appreciate a dog in the back seat of their rental car, but I would deal with that when the time came.

The dog hopped right in the back of the car and sat down without much prompting. I snapped a picture before taking him to the shelter.


I talked with him all the way until I pulled up to the Nevada SPCA’s building. I brought my new friend inside and the woman behind the counter looked at me a little funny for the goofy short strap leash I was holding. When she asked why I was giving him up, I said, “I found him.” She wrote, “Surrendering animal.”

She told me a little more about the Nevada SPCA. It’s a no-kill shelter in the area of the country with the highest per-capital kill rate of dogs and cats. This made me even happier that I’d found them. She also said the area where I found him was a common place pets are let go because the apartment complexes there don’t allow animals. She confirmed that Tropicana Ave is a very dangerous road and that it was a good thing he didn’t wander off the sidewalk into traffic.

I said a quick goodbye and an employee took him behind the counter to prep him for his stay at the shelter.


I headed back out to the car. Before I turned the key, I felt a wash of emotion come over me that hadn’t hit me in the excitement of getting the dog to safety. I’m not one to give much stock to “fate,” “luck,” or the universe giving me some sort of message, but I won’t deny that I got choked up in that moment thinking about Amina and the amazing timing of finding this dog less than 24 hours before I was going to head home, all because I decided to take a run in the desert.

I kept an eye on the Nevada SPCA’s site for a week or two after getting home because they told me he’d probably be up for adoption within a couple of days. It took a while, but he eventually showed up and I recognized him immediately when I saw his eyes. He cleaned up nicely!

Christiano - cleaned up!

They named this Labradoodle “Christiano” and had just a short description on the web site about him:

“Christiano” – “Comical, fun-loving young Labradoodle (Labrador Retriever & Poodle), male, 1 yr.”

When I dropped him off, they assured me he’d have no trouble finding a home, as Labradoodles are extremely popular with families. Sure enough, within two days, he was adopted to “a very nice couple.” I’m pretty sure I would have adopted him on the spot had I not been across the country, but I’m glad he wound up in a good home.

I’ve passed along my contact information to the SPCA to share with the couple. I’d love to share his story with them and hear how he’s doing now. I only spent an hour or so with him, but because of the timing and his personality, I felt a quick connection to him.

I hope he’s doing well.

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