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.”
Soooo glad this has a happy ending for all!!
So happy she found her way home!
What a relief! So happy for everyone.
“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. “
This is THE nightmare for a lawyer, in every way! So glad this sweet girl made it home. I think I’ve seen those two in those distinctive fleeces out before.
Thank you for sharing Gia’s journey! We are so grateful to everyone who helped, including all the wonderful people of the Upper West Side – strangers to Gia – who laid on the sidewalks trying to help her. There was a stranger who hopped on a citi bike and spent 45 minutes searching for her. My friends joined the search and sprung into action on no notice. My doorman, specifically Will Rodriguez, was with me the whole time on his scooter searching for Gia and calling her name. Another doormen ran out into the street to try to catch her when he saw her try to come home but turn away. Grace Jordan, another friend, headed to Riverside Park, and after Gia came home, Grace came over with her partner, Nadia and my best friend to comfort me, Gia and Jax. Our other friends, Despina and her Husband, Michael, abandoned work to join the search effort. Everyone did his/her part to help Gia return home safely, but ultimately it was luck, blessings, perhaps her bright outfit that helped cars stop for her, and her own determination that brought her home ❤️ For more of Gia, you can follow her Instagram: Gia_iggy.
That you can muster friends so fast in an emergency like this, and join them, is a remarkable benefit of working at home.
She was in court working
She went home. ❤️
It was a virtual trial, so I was home
So glad you got your Gia back! That is the scariest thing for any dog mom or dad. Invest in a leash with a double connection and use a collar and a harness. Leerburg makes a good one. Gia is a beautiful girl. ❤️
Honestly sobbing . . . so relieved.
So glad there was a happy ending to this story! Just a suggestion, but you may want to add a harness to the ensemble. I have a friend who has a real ‘puller’ so she has a double leash, one end attached to the collar and the other to the harness. : )
Hi Caly! Thank you for this suggestion. Iggies are notorious for escaping harnesses as well actually. However there is a specific collar/leash that has a built in back up slip lead that Gia will be using as soon as it arrives. This won’t be happening again!!!!
It’s either and if he starts to run when Its called a Martin Gale I have both for my Italian greyhound but mine doesn’t try to slip out of have him loose outside around the house he sometimes starts to try to take him self on the walk because he knows the route and the way home . But I don’t chase him because they love to run , but instead I will add some serious tone to the volume
of my voice give him my serious look and say his name followed by a stern No! he freezes up in his tracks with fear and a little understanding of why I’m upset about him trying to run thinking its ok 🤣 and I cut him off at an angle . They are prey driven sight hounds and sometimes food motivated so just keep a few small treats or a cat like string toy , they will be following your direction at light speed! Just sharing my knowledge for whomever may require it 👌🏻
Hi Lauren, I’m not familiar with that type of collar/leash but I’ll definitely look into it. Good luck to you! : )
My dog is a fast runner, panics easily who also has an unusual neck size that would make it easier for her to get out of her collar if she was scared and tried to bolt. It has always been a big worry for me.
I don’t know if this idea will help you or not, but I have a harness and a collar for my dog, which I use in conjunction with double leashes and a dog harness belt around my waist. Nothing is perfect, but it definitely seems to lower the risk as I’ve seen her startled by a loud noise and she hasn’t been to run because she is attached to me. This wouldn’t help in your circumstance, but the leash/harness combo might – especially if they are specially made and sized for your dogs, and the harness belt might lower the chances even more.
I am so glad your dog returned home, safe and sound. That must have been so scary for everyone involved. What a relief.
So if chasing is not the right thing to do, what is the best way to “corral” if you will, a greyhound ?
Hi Lenore, It depends on the breed. For sighthounds who are this fast, you could walk in the opposite direction of danger as soon as you notice they are off leash. If you can, walk into a store, saying “let’s go” as calmly as you can, and hold the door open for them (the hope is that they will follow you). If in the park, you can sit on a park bench. Asking them to come is another option, especially if you have treats. You can ask them to sit to get them into “listening mode” and then offer the treat so they don’t realize they are being “tricked”. I don’t have the perfect solution but it is important never to chase a sighthound, because that 100% will not work. They need to remain calm to have the best chance at recapturing them.
Thank goodness for a happy ending!
So happy for all involved. Our pets are our family and we always try to keep them safe. As the photo says,especially for Gia, “there’s no place like home”.
Omg! Thank you for posting this! My son and I saw Gia run by in Riverside on 80th street- she was so fast and ran up to West End…was out of sight so fast! We hoped she would get home- she looked like she knew exactly where she was headed. I’m so happy to read this….we’ve been thinking of her nonstop.
Thank you for letting me know you saw Gia. I only saw her once in Riverside park once I found out she was off leash. She was far away (distance of about 2.5 blocks) with her back to me, and when I called for her she seemed confused and ran deeper into the park – but I lost sight of her almost immediately due to her speed. Thank you for your good wishes, who knows, maybe that good energy helped bring her home 🙂
So glad Gia made it home. That happened to one of my dogs and she ran into Riverside Park. I was frantically searching for her for hours and decided to go home to make signs to put up in the neighborhood. When I got to my building she was sitting next to the doorman at the front desk. It was a miracle she made it home running through the traffic. I know what Ms. Michaeli went through…..what nightmare.
Oh my god! You went through it too!! Terrifying. Glad your baby is home safe.
I would recommend changing to a harness leash rather than a neck leash. It’ll make your dog happier and you won’t have the worry about her slipping out or having to make the collar too tight. There’s nothing like peace of mind, as my grandfather used to say!
This breed needs harnesses not collars.
So glad to hear there are still some decent people out there who will help the 4 legged precision animals.
In my experience (I’ve never lost a dog but been involved with rescue long enough to hear lots of stories), you will never find New Yorkers being kinder than when rallying to help find a lost dog.
Use a gentle lead, I used to raise IG’s and the gentle lead is the safest. So glad you got your baby back.
awww woggy woggy
As a mom to a whippet and a greyhound I know how frightening this is! I’m so happy Gia is such a smart little girl and ran home. There is a huge event called Greyhounds in Gettysburg on 4/20 to 4/23 that includes IG’s. There are lots of vendors with items specifically for these sighthounds. There’s an IG banquet on friday night including dogs.
This looks like the most incredible event! I have a trial that Friday but maybe I can try to make it for Saturday and Sunday’s events. I’d like to hear Dr. Brown’s presentation!
So happy that she made her way home. A similar thing happened to me with my foster greyhound. I was also lucky. Love IGs and Greys.
I find sitting and crying brings their attention back to you, as long as you’re close enough!
Crisis averted thank goodness! Tip: the owner should only use a halter — not a collar –and even then, make sure it fits snugly so it doesn’t slip off.
I hope this will get to her. If you get me Gia’s dementions I will make her a pink harness. I have a 10 year old Italian Greyhound, and I can never find a harness that fits right. So I made her one. She got out on me and I was so scared. She ran far enough to get back to the house, just the wrong direction. So glad to here she is safe.
That is so unbelievably kind of you. My email is Michaeli.Lauren@gmail.com. I’d love to learn more about your harness designed for you IG!
I have a Lab and a Greyhound. ( Remus ) Lab did that once… went out the gate ran around the block and then ended up back at my front door. ( Chloe) Greyhound is definitely something to worry about. I think I would be sick if that ever happened. They can run track with many other greyhounds for a couple years but it just takes one car.
I am so glad Gia found her way home again. They are absolutely smart and beautiful