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Keen-eyed canoer rescues missing puppy stranded on island

Canoer rescues lost puppy stranded on island for two days
Canoer rescues lost puppy stranded on island for two days 03:18

A grieving couple who lost their dog after a Bay Area fireworks display have now been happily reunited. It's all thanks to a sharp-eyed canoer who saw something that didn't look right and decided to help out.

If one thing is clear, it's that 8-month-old goldendoodle Leilani is not a fan of fireworks. Her owners, Elizabeth and Kevin Dalonzo, had her with them near the Port of Redwood City when the July 4th fireworks began going off.

"Like, I have her, right?" said Elizabeth. "But once the first firework goes off, she completely bolts. She freaks out and jets off, so quickly I couldn't even move in time, react in time."

Leillani was lost, and the couple was crushed. They searched the area most of the night and the whole next day, but with no luck.

"We were both in tears...just torn up," said Kevin.

"It crossed my mind that she might not have made it." said Elizabeth. "She might have drowned, we might have lost her. She might have died."

But then two days later, on July 6th, Roger Dunn was cruising in his outrigger canoe past Bair Island, a large mud flat across from the port.

"And as I looked across the channel, onto Bair Island, I saw a dog running. Didn't think much about it for two seconds. And then I saw it had a collar and a leash, and I thought, something's not right," said Roger.

It was, of course, Leilani. And she seemed pretty eager to get off the island.

"I'm about a foot from her on the water and she leaned over and sniffed me, sat back and growled at me," he said. "And I just said, 'Well okay, we'll just sit here for a minute,' and it didn't take much more than a minute when she kind of sniffed me again and kind of came to the water."

A fellow canoer snapped a photo as Leilani calmly sat in Roger's lap for the long paddle back. But Roger still didn't know who owned the dog, so he took it to a local vet's office to try to make contact. There, he met Denise O'Brien, founder of a group called Silicon Valley Watch Dogs. With Leilani still clinging to her rescuer, Denise connected Roger to her owners.

"I listened to Roger's voicemail and I was just in tears," said Kevin. "It was just...yeah. It was just full of emotion. It was actually one of the best voicemails I've ever gotten. Leilani's back, you know..."

When Kevin arrived, Leilani's mood changed completely. Still exhausted from the ordeal, she circled around him, her tail wagging furiously. Denise captured most of the reunion on video.

"And little did I know that it would go viral," she said, laughing. "And then, I put it on Tik Tok and we had, I think, as of this morning, over 40,000 views."

On Tuesday, the whole group got back together at the port, where it all started. Leilani spent two days on the island without food or fresh water, but she's doing fine now--although her owners say she stays pretty close to them these days. As for Roger, he's a little surprised by all the publicity, claiming he's just a guy who just happened to be there and did the right thing at the right time.

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