Janine Elich of Paso Robles had started to believe that her dog, missing four days, might be gone forever.
But Monday morning, the chihuahua/terrier mix, hungry and covered in ticks, walked through the front door of Elich’s workplace — 15 miles away from the site where she went missing.
On Thursday, Elich had popped into her daughter’s house in Grover Beach for a quick visit, where she believes Sandy (short for Sandra-Dee) jumped out of her car’s rear window.
She searched for the dog for five hours that night, and her co-workers at Apple Farm Inn and Restaurant in San Luis Obispo helped with fliers and a Craigslist posting.
Another co-worker had spotted Sandy loose in Grover Beach on the night of her escape — but he didn’t realize it was the same dog wearing a pink collar until Sandy sneaked in on the heels of a hostess during the breakfast shift Monday morning.
Elich cried when she received the news, over the phone, that Sandy was safe. The dog was fed celebratory sausage and eggs. Elich’s manager, Joanna Patch, dubbed the dog “Sandy the survivor.”
“What are the odds, right?” said Elich of Sandy’s long trek to Apple Farm, a place the dog had visited with her owner numerous times.
Perhaps the dog was too tired to make it to Elich’s home in Paso Robles and thought to stop off at her work instead, Patch mused.
Elich believes it’s unlikely any person helped Sandy arrive at the restaurant, because the dog’s tags only list the number for her veterinarian.
Sandy appears to have emerged from the journey unscathed, though she has lost some weight.
“She was kind of a chubster,” Elich said of the persistent pooch. “She lived off her reserves for a while.”