By Lisa Kava
Lauren Michaeli, an Upper West Side lawyer, was in a virtual trial last week when her dog walker picked up her Italian Greyhounds, Gia and Jax, at around 11:45 a.m. At 12:18 p.m., Michaeli received a frantic call from the walker. “He was breathless and anxious,” she told the Rag in a phone interview. “He said Gia, who weighs only six pounds, had slipped from her collar and he had been chasing her for about 25 minutes before she ran into Riverside Park.” Michaeli interrupted the testimony, told the judge she had a personal emergency, grabbed her shoes, and ran out of her building at 90th Street and Broadway.
She called a friend in her Italian Greyhound social group, pleading for help. Within minutes, members of the group were out looking for Gia. “My heart stopped when I got the call that Gia was missing,” said Nadia Cianca. “I immediately jumped up and was out the door within five minutes. All I could think about was Gia being hit by a car.”
According to the walker, Gia slipped out of her collar on Central Park West and bolted west on 85th Street. The walker sprinted after Gia, screaming while carrying Jax. “He witnessed Gia running into traffic on Columbus. He ran right into the street, yelling at the top of his lungs.” But while the walker’s actions were instinctual, they caused Gia to run faster and farther out of reach. “Italian Greyhounds can run up to 25 miles per hour. You should never chase this breed, as you can’t keep up and that scares them into a panic.”
Upper West Siders going about their day witnessed the small dog running. “I saw a terrible thing!” one passerby exclaimed. “A dog with a pastel-colored sweater running up Amsterdam in the middle of the street. I waved down a UPS truck to stop, which it did, but the dog kept running. A few people tried to grab the dog, but it was too fast. It was so upsetting.”
Then, at 1:05 PM, Michaeli got a phone call — Gia had returned home and was in the lobby of her building, behind the security desk! Video surveillance later showed she had approached the building twice before she came in, but ran away toward Riverside Park. “She wanted to go home, but was spooked and in panic mode.”
Italian Greyhounds are known to be escape artists with long skinny necks, Michaeli explained. They are part of a group of dogs called “sighthounds,” known for their speed. Whippets, Greyhounds, and Irish Wolfhounds are all sighthounds. “They are fast, and they will flee. The worst thing to do is run after them.”
Still, Michaeli is thankful to everyone who tried to help. “Gia is a special heart dog for me, super friendly, always listens, and never causes trouble. This was totally out of character.”
Michaeli does not blame the mishap on the dog walker, who she describes as “an absolute sweetheart and a very trustworthy person. He ran into traffic and risked his life to save her.” She explained that Gia’s collar was loose, although it had been made for her, and the day she escaped, Michaeli had placed her collar over her fleece, which she thinks made it slip. “I will never do that again,” she shared on her dogs’ Instagram account.
Other than a few cuts on her front paws, Gia seems unscathed. Michaeli is still recovering from the experience. “It is truly a miracle that Gia is safe,” she said. “She was determined to get home and she did so on her own terms.”