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This Dog Went Missing From Home Each Day. But When Her Mom Found Out Why – It’ll Make You Cry

Image: via YouTube/Titus Rivas
Dogs are loyal creatures that love unconditionally and never judge. They can also be somewhat mischievous, what with their tendency to want to wander off and explore anything and everything. However, when Saki repeatedly escaped from her yard, she wasn’t misbehaving. In fact, her reasons for disappearing were precisely why dogs are man’s best friends.
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It all started when Saki was a stray puppy roaming around Sacramento, California. Here, she was found by a lady and brought to the attention of the National Disaster Search Dog Foundation. And on noticing the young dog’s cleverness and temperament, the organization reckoned that Saki could become a great service dog.
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So Saki was temporarily housed with a lady called Dennie – a service-dog trainer – and her family for a preliminary training period. It turned out, however, that the dog wasn’t that enamored by her new regime.
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This was strange, though, because the young German shepherd was bright, active and had a great nose. She was basically perfect for the job. But there was one thing preventing Saki from becoming a great rescue dog: a young boy with blond ringlets.
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The boy was six-year-old Danny Mangold, who lived across the road from Dennie with his adoptive family. Danny had faced many struggles already in his short life. Indeed, he had severely delayed development, though the doctors could not pinpoint exactly why.
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It turned out that Florida-born Danny’s illiterate father was just 17 when Danny was born, so he had been unable to take care of him. Therefore, Danny, at just six months old, was adopted by friends-of-friends Dixie Morgan and her husband at the time, Dan.
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Back then, little Danny couldn’t eat solid food or hold his head up, and everything came slower to him. He had trouble forming words, for instance, and he took longer than normal to crawl and, eventually, walk.
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“It’s frustrating because every parent hopes her child will excel,” Dixie would later tell the Los Angeles Times in 1999. “So we coached him, we urged him, we encouraged him. But we knew from the first time we met him that he had problems.”
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Danny started attending a special education program after his first birthday to help with his development. By the age of five, however, the little boy was still lagging behind his classmates. He couldn’t speak in whole sentences, and he was unable to use the toilet by himself.
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It was around this time that Dixie separated from Dan and moved to Ojai with Danny and his two older adopted siblings. Dixie then ended up marrying her old high-school flame, who went on to become a father figure to the three adopted kids.
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So the Morgan family became neighbors to Dennie, who was by this time training – or at least attempting to train – Saki. Little did the Morgans know, however, that this once-stray pooch would soon become a big part of their lives.
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In fact, Saki was so curious about her new neighbors that she began escaping her yard every day and going to see them. And when Dennie went to retrieve her, she found that the dog had made a beeline for Danny. No one could have expected what would happen when Saki and Danny met; it was as if they struck up an instant bond.
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Danny and Saki quickly became close friends, with the pair regularly playing catch and taking naps together. “I was touched by the way Saki and Danny connected,” Dixie told the Los Angeles Times. “Socially, he doesn’t always interact effectively with his peers. But he did with the dog. Saki understood him. They understood each other.”
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Indeed, the pair understood each other so well that their relationship began to have a noticeable effect on Danny. Just a week after him meeting Saki, in fact, the boy’s speech started improving. His motor skills also improved as he threw balls for the dog. Danny even began using the toilet.
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In fact, Danny soon became able to talk in complete sentences. “This is my puppy,” he began to say. “I am Saki’s dad.” Dixie was skeptical at first that this was down to the dog’s influence. But after the two spent more time together it became clear that Saki was indeed a special – and influential – dog.
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Dixie therefore reached out to the National Disaster Search Dog Foundation to see if Danny could keep the dog, but the answer was not encouraging. Good search dogs are hard to find; the foundation might test up to 50 dogs before finding the right one for the job. And Saki was displaying all the requisite attributes.
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The dog herself, though, was clearly happy where she was – and, of course, she was working by helping to fast-forward Danny’s development. So Dixie decided to invite the foundation’s president, Wilma Melville, to come and see their special relationship for herself.
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After seeing Danny and Saki together, Melville made the decision to release Saki from the program. “To let the dog go, it was not easy,” she explained to the Los Angeles Times. “But we decided that the dog had a real use here. She and Danny made a very heartwarming attachment.”
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What’s more, this attachment only grew stronger once Danny and Saki were together for good. The boy reveled in taking responsibility for the dog’s care: in addition to feeding her, he brushed her coat and gave the pooch a pillow for her head at night.
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It’s Saki, however, who’s given Danny the greatest gift of all. Speaking to the Los Angeles Times, the boy’s older sister Cecily described it best. She said, “You know how a butterfly can’t live without his wings? That’s how it is for them.”

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