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When Utah Jazz player Kelly Olynyk and his wife, Jackie, found a lost dog, it was the start of a 12-hour Christmas Day adventure that would see the couple enjoy dinner in the cold with their new pal and later reunite him with his home after four years. The heartwarming story comes from San Antonio, where the Jazz were scheduled to play the following day. The couple were having lunch at a fast food joint when they noticed a dog without tags wandering the parking lot, per the Salt Lake Tribune. Jackie Olynyk, a dog lover, was eager to help the gray mixed-breed. And when she opened the door of the couple’s rental car, the dog “suddenly jumped in, right into Jackie’s lap,” Kelly Olynyk tells the Washington Post.
Hoping the dog had a microchip with identifying information, the couple drove around to local animal shelters, all of which were closed, before arriving at an emergency vet clinic. Staff found the dog did have a microchip, but the Olynyks soon discovered the owner had moved on from the local address listed and the phone number was disconnected. Luckily, the couple was able to find the owner on social media, and while waiting for a response, took the dog named Harley back to their hotel for Christmas dinner. Unwilling to leave the whining dog in their room, “we decided, ‘Okay, she’s coming to dinner with us,'” Jackie tells the Post. “It was cold” and “everyone thought we were crazy, but the three of us sat outside [on the hotel restaurant patio] … and had our little Christmas dinner together.”
As the hotel didn’t technically accept pets, the couple found someone to take Harley for the night, but the dog quickly escaped the person’s backyard. “We opened the door, and she jumped back into Jackie’s lap again,” says Kelly. It was then they heard from Harley’s owner. “I didn’t mention the dog’s name, but she did,” says Jackie. “That’s how we knew we’d found the right person.” After 12 hours of searching, the couple drove 10 minutes to the woman’s home and watched as “the dog jumped into her arms.” It turned out Harley had been stolen four years earlier. The owner had left Harley with a dog sitter, who suddenly blocked her calls and vanished, per the Tribune. “The mom was in disbelief and shock, just so happy,” Jackie says, per the Post. “It was like a little Christmas miracle.” (Read more uplifting news stories.)