TRUCKEE, Calif. – A Northern California family is grateful to their community and police department after their Dodge Ram pickup was recovered three days after it was stolen, with their dog still inside.
The truck was taken from outside the Hamiltons' Truckee home Saturday evening while Carolyn Hamilton and her husband were preparing for an outing with their beloved 6-year-old family dog, Albus.
"We just put him in the truck in our driveway, came back in to say goodbye, and literally turned around and the truck was gone," Carolyn explained.
Truckee police and the California Highway Patrol pursued the vehicle eastbound on Interstate 80 that night, but officers called off the chase when they deemed it too dangerous to continue on surface streets in Reno.
For three days, the Hamiltons and many volunteers searched tirelessly for Albus and the vehicle. Truckee Police also kept searching.
"There was some hope in it, and some urgency," Carolyn recalled. "And I think that's a magical equation."
Tuesday night, police found the truck abandoned in a southeast Reno neighborhood with Albus inside. He was weak and dehydrated, but otherwise healthy.
Albus was named after the character Albus Dumbledore from the Harry Potter stories. And appropriately, there is something almost otherworldly about his survival. Police said it appeared he had been trapped inside the closed vehicle the whole time he was missing, during very warm afternoons and cold nights.
Carolyn Hamilton said the entire ordeal was very eye-opening for her family, as they thought about people, such as victims of recent wildfires, who have suffered through much worse situations than the stressful one they just experienced.
"We tried to always compare our grief to the larger grief," Carolyn recalled. "And I think what happened is that we were able to just be a little more compassionate for people who experience loss."
After a vet checkup, Albus was able to come home Wednesday, where he got a visit from Truckee police officers.
"They had a tenderness about them that you don't attach to police officers, but we should from now on," Carolyn concluded.
The investigation into the theft is ongoing.