‘Somebody stop that dog!’ I was in the right place at the right time. Cars zoomed by. I dove for the dog on asphalt.’: Retired professional Nike distance runner joins selfless community effort to save lost dog

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“If it wasn’t for the fact that this was someone else’s dog, this story wouldn’t seem out of the ordinary. Oh yeah, and the fact that a sea of humans from all different walks of life came together with one immediate goal in mind: save that dog!

There is just something about seeing another animal suffering that really gets to people. As a dog owner myself, I can fully understand. On this particular day, my kids and I had just arrived from a twelve-hour travel day from Bermuda to Santa Monica. About two miles from the house, I spotted a large white, fluffy dog with a leash attached to it. The only problem was there was no owner attached to the leash, and the dog was running frantically down the middle of a busy intersection on Cloverfield Dr.

Cars huffed and zoomed by, a few turning left at the green arrow. The dog just barely made it through the first traffic light in one piece. Next, it sprinted down the road straight in front of us. Watching helplessly from the back seat were my 10-year-old, 9-year-old, and 7-year-old. And that’s truly how we felt at first…helpless. I remember hearing someone say, ‘Somebody has to stop that dog!’

Two miracle intersections later, I saw the first person trying to help. They pulled their car over and got out, blocking the intersection so the dog wouldn’t get hit. But the dog swerved around the car and kept dashing down the road. At the next intersection, with the encouragement of my kids, I took the suitcase off my lap, got out of my car, and followed the woman who was already in pursuit of the dog.

Having run professional track and field for Nike as a distance runner, I was in the right place at the right time. Although I’m old and broken down now, I still manage to train a good amount. So, if there was anyone who had a chance of chasing this dog down, it was going to be me. I knew that, so I let my feet take over.

Courtesy of Chris Estwanik

The next three miles were a blur. Many others tagged along on the way. We were panting, shouting, but, most of all, determined. As we chased our way through Santa Monica, now a crowd of nearly 40 people, the dog was always a block ahead. We must have looked hilarious to people watching. We were in full sprint mode, and this dog had way more speed than us.

However, with the help of a few doctors in scrubs, men in business suits, a wonderful couple in a white car tracking us on four wheels, another woman in a white car who stopped by with water, and so many other pedestrians, we were finally able to catch the dog before it got hurt. We ran in dress shoes, heels, and sneakers until we had blisters. Eventually, after what seemed like forever, the dog slowed.

Once I was in close enough range, I dove for the dog on asphalt. Next, we trapped it inside a gated area to keep him from running away again.

Courtesy of Chris Estwanik

I took a hold of his leash and he sat, panting in the shade, with his bleeding paws imprinting bloody marks all around him. Soon after, a neighbor of the owners found his way to the scene and took over from there, thanking us. We were bruised and bloodied, but happy.

Courtesy of Chris Estwanik

I have no idea how the dog got out of its house and I don’t even know the owner, but it didn’t matter. I was in a position to help and I thought, ‘Why not?’ It was my turn to be kind. Kindness is absolutely free, and coming together in solidarity, love, and determination is free. I hope we can do this not just for our animals, but for fellow humans in need. Imagine what the world would be like with villages of love in every town, with a superhero team of forty-something coming to save the day.

It was an awesome experience to see people weren’t too busy to stop and do the right thing in today’s busy world. Needless to say, I’m not sure if my children have ever been prouder of me than they were in that moment!”

Courtesy of Chris Estwanik
Courtesy of Chris Estwanik

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Chris Estwanik. You can follow his journey on Instagram here. Submit your own story here and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories.

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