Justin Luther and his dog Tia are inseparable.
Based in Missouri, Luther drives semitrailers cross-country for a living. Tia’s gone along for the ride since he adopted her last Christmas.
“She lives in that truck with me,” he said. “She’s a constant companion.”
But Luther and his dog were suddenly split when an accident on the road sent Tia bolting from the truck.
Luther was one of two semi drivers involved in a crash on the Indiana Toll Road Wednesday afternoon, Aug. 13, that closed two westbound lanes and caught one semi on fire.
His co-driver’s dog, Jager, started to run from the truck and was caught quickly. But Tia had disappeared.
Luther started searching for her right away.
“I think I irritated the Indiana State Police troopers,” he said. “They wanted to talk about the accident, and I wanted to look for my dog.”
Luther said he’s had post-traumatic stress disorder since serving in the military, and Tia keeps him calm.
“She kinda keeps me level,” he said. “I was a little freaked out that she wasn’t there.”
Luther called the Elkhart County Humane Society Thursday when they opened to see if Tia had been turned in.
Humane Society employee Jamie Morgan stopped Luther as he started describing the dog.
“Does she have a white patch?” Morgan asked him.
“Yeah, she’s got white on her head,” Luther said. He described her to Morgan in more detail. Tia had white on her paws and face. She was mixed breed, a combination of pit bull, Labrador and Blue Heeler.
It turned out that Luther’s call was well-timed.
“Your dog just walked in,” Morgan told him.
Tia had been found wandering through a woman’s yard off I-80, near the crash site.
“She just walked right in and made herself at home,” Luther said.
The woman who found the dog brought her to the shelter just as Luther and Morgan were finishing their phone call. Luther didn’t have transportation because of the accident, so the woman volunteered to take his dog to him.
“She understood that this was a traumatic situation all around,” said Humane Society director Anne Reel.
Reel said people who find dogs and cats wandering without a collar or other identification should always contact the Humane Society to report the animal. The shelter will check a found animal’s description against descriptions of lost pets.
Both the shelter and veterinarians can scan pets for microchips that identify an animal’s owner, Reel said. Luther’s dog Tia was chipped, but didn’t have to be scanned since she was matched to her owner so quickly.
“We were very glad the dog was not injured and made its way to some good soul’s yard and then they were able to bring it to us,” Reel said.
Luther and Tia were reunited at about noon Thursday and stuck close together all day.
Luther said the dog seemed just as relieved by the reunion as he was.
“She was a little bit shook up,” he said.“She wouldn’t let me go anywhere by myself yesterday, she had to go everywhere I went.”