Abigail Rhoads and Alithea - pit bull reunited with owner

Abigail Rhoads hugs her 3-year-old pit bull Alithea. The canine had wandered the Gate City area foothills for over a week after being ejected from a vehicle in a rollover crash on Interstate 15 in Pocatello.

POCATELLO — After being ejected from a rollover crash on Interstate 15 in Pocatello and surviving over a week wandering the Gate City area foothills amid an exhausting heat wave, a 3-year-old pit bull was reunited with her owner early Friday morning.

The female white pit bull named Alithea, which means “truthful” in Greek, found her own way home and was captured in owner Abigail Rhoads’ yard around 3 a.m. Friday morning.

“Emotionally I’m doing so much better now that my dog is back home,” Rhoads said. “I’ve heard stories about dogs finally finding their own way home but didn’t believe it. I 100 percent believe in it now; it definitely happens.”

Rhoads said the reunion with her canine companion began to unfold when two local residents spotted her early Friday morning by the Maverik convenience store on South Fifth Avenue. The pair followed the dog to a residence in the Flamingo Mobile Home Community and contacted Idaho State Police dispatchers who then contacted Rhoads’ parents. From there, Rhoads’ parents responded to the home, saw Alithea was still in the yard and quickly closed the gate.

“Apparently they got the call at 3 a.m. but I was sound asleep,” Rhoads said. “My other dog Jasper had to go to the bathroom, so I got up and saw I had a ton of missed calls. I called my mom back and she was like, ‘We got her.’ When I first got there around 4:30 a.m. I thought it was a different dog at first. She ran up to me and hit me on the leg a little and then ran away. But then when she realized it was me she jumped up into my arms, put her front legs on my shoulders and just started kissing me as I cried.”

Rhoads added that she wanted to apologize to her neighbors because Alithea had been barking for about 30 minutes before she arrived at the home.

Though Rhoads offered to give the $300 reward she and the local non-profit animal rescue group called Portneuf Animal Welfare Society Inc., or PAWS, put together, the pair declined, Rhoads said.

“We offered the reward but they wouldn’t take it, saying that they didn’t help us for the money,” Rhoads said. “We still want to get them a gift card to their favorite restaurant or something.”

Alithea had been spotted numerous times since she was ejected from the 2001 Chrysler PT Cruiser that Rhoads was driving around 6 p.m. on June 23 when she drove off the road and into the median near milepost 68 on Interstate 15 in Pocatello. Her vehicle then rolled.

Rhoads was transported by ground ambulance to Portneuf Medical Center in Pocatello following the crash. Officials there say she was treated and released.

Alithea, like many animal companions after a traumatic experience, was confused and skittish following the accident and would run away from anyone who attempted to capture her, even Rhoads and her family. But in a fashion reminiscent of the Walt Disney classic, “Homeward Bound,” Alithea eventually settled enough to return home on her own terms, and Rhoads couldn’t be happier, she said.

“We went by and picked up her kennel and blankets from around Idaho State University today,” Rhoads said. “We also took Alithea to the vet and other than a pretty bad sunburn, a few scratches and one tick, she has a perfect bill of health.”

Rhoads said the overall willingness of the Gate City area community to rally behind her in finding Alithea will not be something she soon forgets.

“I have no words to express how grateful I am to the entire community, especially those who helped us so much,” Rhoads said. “I wish I could thank each one of you individually. These people didn’t even know who I was and still banded together to help out. It really reminds me that there are good people still out in the world. I’m definitely going to be paying it forward.”