Tears streamed down Christina Olson’s face.
The Beaufort resident, a charge nurse at a correctional facility in Ridgeland, remembered Thursday how her rescue dog, “Monkey,” was stolen July 3 and the exhaustive — and exhausting — 40-day search that followed.
“I couldn’t sleep,” Olson, 57, said. “I stayed out all hours of the night and day. I had literally thousands of people looking for him.”
Monkey, who got his name because of the way he jumped around when Olson adopted him, was taken around 10:30 p.m. near Broad Creek Road in Beaufort, Olson said. She and the brindle chihuahua — rescued by Olson while she was volunteering at a Charleston shelter following the floods last November — were in the front yard. Early July Fourth fireworks were going off. Monkey got spooked, Olson said, and took off. So did Olson, a Philadelphia native who’s been hooked on rescuing animals since her first, a cat at age 3.
She said she saw someone take the dog but wasn’t able to stop them.
Fortunately, Monkey had been implanted with a chip.
On Aug. 12, Olson got a call from a shelter in Columbus, Ohio.
Coming off a 13-hour shift at the correctional facility, she and two friends hit the road that night around 8:30 on the 600-plus-mile journey.
But it wasn’t over yet.
“When we got there, the shelter told me someone came and claimed the dog the day before.” Olson said. The dog was given away despite the presence of the chip, she said.
Enter deputy Kevin Phillips of the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office in Ohio.
Dispatched to the shelter about a dispute, he found a distraught Olson pleading for help.
When he arrived at the address the shelter gave him, a woman who answered the door said she had indeed picked up Monkey the day before. But the dog was her son’s and was at his house.
The two drove there.
Phillips looked everywhere for about 45 minutes.
“Hey listen,” Phillips said he told the woman, “this lady, Ms. Olson, drove all the way from South Carolina. She’s devastated that she’s lost her little dog. ... It’s like her little baby. It’s her child, so anything you can do to help me out, you know, I’d greatly appreciate it.”
The woman called him in less than 45 minutes and asked him to come back to her son’s house.
Phillips found Monkey hiding in a box and joked that he felt “stupid” for missing him during the initial search.
Olson was Phillips’ next stop.
On Aug. 13, “in walks Deputy Phillips, and he’s got this huge smile on his face,” Olson said this week as Monkey took a nap on her lap.
“(Phillips) just kind of walked in, and he kind of pulled him over, and he said, ‘Ma’am, is this your little dog?’ And I just lost it,” Olson said. “I just couldn’t believe that I was looking at my dog after all this time, and 670 miles from my home.”
Monkey, who’d gone gray in the face from the trauma he had endured, didn’t recognize his mom, Olson said.
Olson had no time to worry about her hair when Monkey was missing and had cut it off.
“But when I said his name, I said, ‘Monkey, it’s Mommy!,’ he just kind of like snapped into it. His tail started wagging, and he just flew over and he was kissing me all over.”
Phillips said he doesn’t think he did anything special.
“I really didn’t do that much, just followed up on the information that I was given and just made sure that I took it as far as I could take it,” he said.
On Wednesday, he received a Certificate of Appreciation from his department on behalf of Olson and her Lowcountry rescue operation, “A Better Tomorrow for the Animals.”
Christina calls Phillips “Monkey’s hero.”
“He was determined,” she said. “He’s a pretty amazing man.”
His efforts mended two broken hearts.
And brought Monkey home.