WASHINGTON, D.C. – A little dog named Astro is okay after leading first responders on a chase down a Washington, D.C., expressway. He ran so far, a veterinarian said, he hurt the pads on his paws.
On Friday morning, Liyah Young and Astro, her wayward Shih Tzu-poodle mix, were involved in a multi-vehicle crash on the interstate.
Young was taken to the hospital with minor injuries, and Astro was put in a fire department vehicle for his safety. Then, someone accidentally opened the car door.
“As soon as the door cracked, that dog was out,” firefighter Ryan Bailey said.
What started out as a game of cat and mouse quickly turned into a lopsided track meet with Astro running for his life down a closed interstate.
“We were in pretty good shape. The dog was ahead of us, but we were gaining ground on him,” Montgomery Fire and Rescue Capt. Don Yingling said. “And there was a break in the Jersey wall, and he made it through there, and that’s when it got a little hairy.”
Astro headed straight toward traffic, then ran under a moving car. He miraculously resurfaced, unhurt.
“The job is to protect everybody — animals and people and everything — so we didn’t want him to get over there,” firefighter and paramedic Zach Horchar said.
Small, fluffy and freakishly fast, the seemingly indefatigable, undeterred dog just kept going. He weaved through traffic with the breakaway speed of a thoroughbred and the nine lives of a cat.
The big break came when Astro took a quick turn in front of a semitractor-trailer.
“A civilian actually stopped and actually scared him into the bushes and he was running up the hill and we were able to catch him,” Yingling said.
Yinling and his team finally corralled Astro, safe and sound, after the seven-minute marathon chase.
The pup is now back with Young, who says he’s tired and rehydrating. She says she’s grateful for his guile and for the firefighters who never gave up on him.