By Shawn Chitnis

AURORA, Colo. (CBS4) – A therapy dog that disappeared after a car crash in Adams County last week has been reunited with its family — and its owner is making progress toward his recovery.

“Dave” (credit: Frankie Menna)

“When I told him, he has since then started responding to me,” Celisse Holman said to CBS4 on Friday. “Since I’ve told him Dave’s home, he’s there again.”

(credit: Frankie Menna)

The crash happened on E-470 near Pena Boulevard on June 12. A guard rail was damaged and the front bumper and a tire were found at the scene. The dog’s owner, Kenton Schminke, was rushed to UCHealth, where he was hospitalized in the Intensive Care Unit. After the crash, Schminke’s dog “Dave” was no where to be found.

Kenton Schminke (credit: Frankie Menna)

“If I have him with me, I’m safe,” Holman said her husband believes about their dog. “He said don’t take are of me, take care of my dog.”

Holman says Dave helps her with PTSD and other medical conditions. Dave joined their family more than four years ago from another dog owner. They say he became a part of their lives overnight, they take the dog everywhere they go.

“Dave” (credit: Frankie Menna)

“He immediately recognized me,” she said. “Starts walking towards me.”

Frankie Menna and his wife Brendalenn Alexander lead the search for the dog along with friends and even strangers. They spread the word online and searched on foot each day. More than a week later, they found him in Green Valley Ranch thanks to neighbors noticing the dog.

(credit: Frankie Menna)

“I just grabbed him, I was so excited to see him,” Holman said. “He’s got a kind heart and a good soul.”

They found the dog on Thursday and immediately told Schminke while in the hospital. He remains in the ICU but she says it is making a difference. The conditions inside that ward of the hospital are so sensitive the dog cannot enter, even flowers are not allowed, Holman said. It is a dramatic change in his condition because doctors told he may not make it just over a week ago while the dog was missing. Holman says her husband has broken bones including some of his ribs and multiple organs injured.

“He was really, really sick,” she said. “He’s calming down now, he’s not trying to jump out of his bed.”

“Dave” (credit: Frankie Menna)

Holman is grateful the dog is back and cannot wait for her husband to reunite with him. She loves them both but jokes Schminke would choose the dog over her. The larger takeaway for her is to appreciate the kindness of strangers and enjoy every day you have with loved ones.

“If Ken had a ledge with Dave and I hanging off and he had each of us in a hand, and he had to let go of one, you’d be finding me a grave,” she said before laughing. “They’re best friends, they’re soulmates, they have a connection.”

She is ready to get her family together again. The recovery will be long for her husband and he may not get out of the hospital for months but she has a new look on life thanks to what happened to him and their dog. It has also strengthened her faith in prayer, angels, and God.

“Never use the words hate or die, never use harsh words that you can’t take back,” she said. “Just try to appreciate every day, really every day is a gift.”

Shawn Chitnis

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