Heartfelt Rescue Connects Professor With Pet Dog

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Dr. Brad Van Alstyne is well known on the Dominican University of California campus for his supportive and compassionate nature. That compassion went into overdrive a few weeks ago. Meet Zizi – the luckiest dog in the world (or, at least, Marin County).

Brad, chair of the Communication and Media Studies department, was driving south on U.S. Highway 101 toward San Francisco to watch the 49ers-Rams football game on TV with some friends. As he was driving on the busy and fortunately somewhat slow-moving freeway, he noticed a brown bundle on an embankment by the fast lane to his left.

“I didn't get a very good look at it, so I just assumed it was a brown towel or a blanket.  That day it was pretty windy though and normally a towel or blanket would have been moving,” Brad says. “I kept thinking about it until I couldn't stand it anymore and got off the freeway in Sausalito at the Alexander exit and headed back north on 101 so I could eventually get off and go south again so I could see what the brown lump actually was.”

As Brad went back, exited and steered his car back onto 101 South, just south of Strawberry Village, he discovered it was more than just a bundle.

“I could tell that it was actually a dog, huddled and shaking,” Brad says. “I put on my hazard lights and actually stopped so I could grab `the lump’ not really knowing if the dog was injured, friendly or even wanted me to help.”

Brad ran to the dog’s aid and the two-year-old mixed breed boxer, ridgeback and dalmatian spotted him.

“She put up her paw like she was waving, and I grabbed her and threw her in my car,” Brad says. “I could tell she wasn't hurt, just scared so I took her home and fed her.”

Brad then tried to connect the dog with its owner. He posted a picture of her online and the owners saw the post. They did not want the dog back.

“They told me that they could no longer keep her and were driving on the way to the shelter when she got out of the car and took off,” Brad says. “They asked me to find her a good home or keep her if it seemed like a good match.”

Brad has put new meaning into the term “rescue dog.” He has been bringing Zizi to campus when he can when it doesn’t interfere with his classes in the School of Liberal Arts and Education where Brad is also assistant professor and coordinator of online learning and development.

“I have had her ever since and outside of a few `diva’ issues – I can't get her to stop getting on my bed at night and she snores, barks and kicks in her sleep -- she has been wonderful to have,” Brad says, smiling. “It’s been interesting start to 2022.”

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