Kelly Olynyk and his wife had a road trip adventure they’ll never forget

After spotting a dog wandering in a restaurant parking lot in San Antonio, the couple embarked on a 12-hour misadventure that culminated in a reunion four years in the making.

(Kelly and Jackie Olynyk) Utah Jazz big man Kelly Olynyk and his wife Jackie spent Christmas Day driving around San Antonio trying to reunite a lost dog with its owner. It turns out that the dog, Harley, had been stolen and missing for four years.

When Utah Jazz big man Kelly Olynyk and his wife Jackie caught an early flight to San Antonio this past Christmas day, they got wrapped up in an adventure neither one will ever forget.

Because Jackie has a job based in Austin, the couple flew out ahead of the rest of the team and rented a car, so they could spend some time doing things together before the Jazz played the Spurs on Dec. 26. They found themselves downtown around noon, looking for a place to grab some lunch. After sitting down to eat, they noticed a dog wandering around the parking lot.

Olynyk knew immediately what was about to happen.

“My wife is a huge, huge dog person,” he said. “She loves all dogs — anytime there’s a dog, she has to go pet it. She’s one of those people. So when she saw [this dog], she was all in.”

Jackie told Kelly they needed to go check on the dog. So they paid their bill and approached the dog in the parking lot, checking to see if it had a collar and tags. It didn’t. They went up to a person in a nearby car, asking if they knew anything about the dog. They didn’t.

Again, Olynyk knew what would transpire next.

“She was like, ‘We’re finding some place for this dog, and if we can’t find a place for this dog, we’re keeping this dog,’” he recounted.

Little did they know, their quest would end with a Christmas miracle and a cold case solved.

No room at the ... shelter

Jackie opened the door to the rental car, and the dog jumped in immediately and sat down on her lap.

As the couple have a miniature dachshund named Millie, Olynyk was sympathetic, not wanting this dog to get hit by a car or to go hungry or freeze, so he quickly agreed to his wife’s plan, and they set off for a nearby animal shelter.

They got there and, it being Christmas, found it closed. They looked up another one, about a 25-minute drive away, and headed there, only to find it closed as well. Looking online, they found a third shelter, this one claiming to be open until 2 p.m., and drove there. But it was closed for Christmas, too.

“We couldn’t find anywhere for this dog,” Olynyk said.

Then they located an emergency clinic — where the staff discovered the dog had a microchip.

(Kelly and Jackie Olynyk) Utah Jazz big man Kelly Olynyk and his wife Jackie spent Christmas Day driving around San Antonio trying to reunite a lost dog with its owner. It turns out that the dog, Harley, had been stolen and missing for four years.

“Oh my god, amazing!” Olynyk said. “So they give us the information, they’re like, this is the owner’s name, phone number, email address, and their house address. Perfect! Amazing!”

They tried calling the phone number first, but got a recording saying it was disconnected. They tried texting it, just to be sure, but got a bounceback message confirming the number was no longer in service. Then they sent an email and waited a little bit, but quickly figured the person was perhaps unlikely to be checking her email on Christmas day. One option left.

“We’re like, we have the address! So we then drive to this person’s address, and we knock on the door, and we’re like, ‘Hey, I think we found your dog.’ And they’re like, ‘Uh, I don’t have a dog,’” Olynyk recalled. “We’re like, ‘Oh, are you so and so?’ They’re like, ‘No, and I’ve lived here for four years. It’s not me.’”

Discouraged by their lack of success, they wondered what to do next.

Jackie decided to try social media, figuring that with the woman’s name in hand, they might be able to find one of her profiles and contact her. Jackie was looking the woman up on Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn. Through the latter, she found where the woman worked and tried calling her employer, but again, it was closed for Christmas. Jackie found Instagram and Facebook profiles she believed to be of the woman and sent some messages, but got no reply. She even sent some messages to the woman’s online friends and followers, but got no responses.

Now, they were starting to lose hope, and also wondering what their next step should be.

One of them suggested trying to board the dog.

“We found somewhere you can board them overnight when you go away, right? Because obviously someone has to be there to feed the dogs that are there,” said Olynyk. “And the lady was super-nice, but she was like, ‘You don’t have [any] papers, you don’t know if the dog’s vaccinated or not; we can’t mix them, we can’t have it around everybody else’s dog.’”

So, despite the fact that they were staying in a swanky hotel as mandated by the NBA’s Collective Bargaining Agreement, the Olynyks decided they’d just keep the dog with them for a while longer.

“We call the hotel and we’re like, ‘Do you guys accept dogs or pets?’ And they’re like, ‘No, we don’t,’ but the lady’s really nice and says, ‘If you just walk in [with it], I don’t think anyone will say anything,’” Olynyk said. “So we walk in with this dog, we act like we know what we’re doing, and we just go up to our room. Now we have this dog in our room in his hotel on the road.”

The next problem? They had Christmas dinner reservations for 7:30. But they figured the dog would be OK in the hotel room for a few hours.

After trying to reassure it, they went out into the hallway and started walking to the elevators. But they heard the dog crying.

“And we’re like, all right, well, we’re not gonna leave this dog in there. So we go back, get the dog, and we’re like, we’ll take the dog to dinner. We go to the [restaurant] and we’re like, ‘Can we sit on the patio with our dog?’ and they’re like, ‘Uhhhh … yeah, fine,’” Olynyk said. “So we’re sitting on the patio at Christmas with this dog. We’ve spent like seven hours now trying to figure out what to do with this dog. And it’s literally the most well-behaved dog ever, just the nicest, super chill, super nice to everybody. He’s just sitting there eating dinner with us for like an hour and a half in San Antonio on the patio. Everybody’s saying, ‘Oh, your dog is so well-behaved!’ And we’re like, ‘Thank you!’ It was amazing.”

Once dinner was over, though, they were still faced with the same dilemma.

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Utah Jazz forward Kelly Olynyk (41) celebrates a three-pointer in the final 94 seconds of the game, as the Utah Jazz host the Sacramento Kings, NBA basketball in Salt Lake City on Monday, March 20, 2023.

They were preparing to bring the dog back to the hotel again when Jackie got a message from a friend. An acquaintance who lived in San Antonio had agreed to take the dog for the night, provided the Olynyks then took the dog to a shelter the next day. They agreed.

So they drove to the friend’s acquaintance’s house … and discovered no one was home. They messaged the acquaintance, who said their family had just gone to the movies, but that they were OK to open the gate to the backyard, leave the dog there, and then the acquaintance would bring it inside once they got back home.

“So we leave the dog in the backyard and we’re walking away, but it was so sad, [the idea of] leaving this dog in the backyard for three hours. It’s kind of chilly,” Olynyk said. “So we get in the car, we drive maybe like three houses down, four houses down, and [Jackie’s] like, ‘We can’t. We have to go back and get the dog. We can’t leave it! We’ll take it back to the hotel, and then when they get home we’ll bring it back.’”

They turned the car around, drove the short distance back — and discovered the dog in the middle of the street.

Whether it had managed to jump the fence or wriggled out somehow, they didn’t know. But when they opened the car door again, it jumped right back in and sat down on Jackie’s lap.

“A Christmas miracle”

Olynyk was driving back to the hotel when Jackie got a call from a local number she didn’t recognize.

“She picks it up and the person was like, ‘Hey, I got a message that you might have found my dog,’” Olynyk said. “She’s like, ‘This is a crazy situation! The dog’s name is Harley?’ We had never told anyone the dog’s name, but the dog’s name is Harley. We’re like, ‘Oh my god, yeah!’”

As it turned out, the woman’s house was only about 10 minutes from where they were.

“We go to the house and she opens the door, and the dog is jumping in her arms, and it’s so happy,” he added.

As the Olynyks were witnessing the happy reunion, and relating the story of where and how they found Harley and their subsequent misadventures with her, Harley’s owner revealed the details of her dog’s disappearance.

(Kelly and Jackie Olynyk) Utah Jazz big man Kelly Olynyk and his wife Jackie spent Christmas Day driving around San Antonio trying to reunite a lost dog with its owner. It turns out that the dog, Harley, had been stolen and missing for four years.

“She’s like, ‘This a crazy story — because I haven’t seen my dog for four years!’” Olynyk said. “And we’re like, ‘What?! That long?’ And she’s like, ‘Yeah, I used to work downtown, and I I dropped her off at a dog sitter, and I went back after work to get her and she was gone. The dog sitter was gone, blocked my number, and just stole my dog.’

“We were like, ‘What? So four years ago, someone stole your dog?’ She said, ‘Yeah, this is literally a Christmas miracle.’”

Despite their Christmas day not at all resembling what they had planned, the Olynyks could hardly have envisioned it turning out better than it did.

“We reunited them after four years of being separated!” he said. “It was like a 12-hour Christmas bender of just like caring for this dog.”

Of course, Olynyk once again knew what was coming next.

“Now my wife is like, ‘Do we want a new dog? Harley was so nice!’” he said, laughing.

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