Photo By: Elliott Burr/Town Crier
Whoever said you can’t go home again should talk to Bonne Alden.
The longtime Los Altos resident lost her beloved 7-pound toy apricot poodle, Holli, in December 2010. The 12-year-old dog, a member of the family since it was 8 weeks old, apparently slipped out the front door unnoticed when Alden left for a Christmas party.
“(Holli) was just groomed and was in a pink jacket,” said Alden, a resident since 1959 and a nurse at El Camino Hospital for 35 years.
Unfortunately, Holli wasn’t wearing her dog collar. Alden said she had given the dog a bath and hadn’t gotten around to reattaching the collar.
Alden searched thoroughly and frantically for three months.
“The whole family was horribly upset,” she said. “I checked shelters from San Mateo to San Jose and I put fliers on every tree (in the neighborhood) and along El Camino (Real). I put up real estate (size) signs.”
No sign of Holli
More than a year after Holli’s disappearance, at the end of last month, a friend told Alden that she had spotted a dog that looked like Holli on a shelter’s website. Alden took a look and agreed that there was more than a passing similarity. But the shelter was in Martinez, quite a distance from Los Altos.
“She wasn’t going to tell us, because she didn’t want to get our hopes up,” Alden said of her friend.
But after comparing the shelter picture with family photos, “we were almost certain it was Holli,” she said.
Alden and her college-age daughter, Audra, drove to the Martinez shelter, only to learn that a man from Danville had dropped off the dog with a payment and an order to euthanize her. The shelter couldn’t release the dog unless the man agreed to drop the order. But the man couldn’t be reached – and mother and daughter were not leaving without the dog.
Ultimately, the shelter relented. Audra lifted the little poodle out of her cage. Now 13, Holli, deaf and with cataracts limiting her vision, did not immediately recognize the holder. But her sense of smell was still intact.
“She started sniffing and became ecstatic,” Alden said of Holli as the dog discovered who was holding her.
The family reunion was on.
“(Audra and I) were both in tears,” Alden said. “It’s such a miracle. After 14 months, she was back. She was definitely our dog – no question about it.”
It wasn’t DNA confirmation, but Holli has a distinctive patch of fur growing from a spot on her body that stemmed from a bad reaction to a rabies vaccine years ago. The patch was all the proof they needed.
Asked how she felt, Smith said, “The words … it’s really inexplicable. … (Holli) was supposed to be euthanized that day. It’s a miracle in and of itself that (we) came that day.”
Since Holli’s rescue Jan. 31, she appears to be recovering just fine. Alden describes her as frisky and in relatively good health.
“She’s so thankful to be home,” Alden said. “She follows us around everywhere. … It’s a wonderful ending after a sad beginning.”