By Jennifer Von Ohlen
DASSEL, MN Throughout their walk through life, people develop strong relationships with some individuals they meet. These could be a relative, a coach, a friend, a coworker, or even a pet.
Ashley (Krohn) Olson of Dassel knew her friends Paula and Chad Darbin had one of those special relationships with their 3-year-old Chocolate Lab, Mia. This is why she did what she could to make sure they were reunited after a car accident separated them while on vacation.
Olson’s husband (and fellow 2008 Dassel-Cokato High School classmate) Steven is a sergeant in the US Army and is currently serving a three-year assignment at the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Landstuhl, Germany. Paula, of Ohio, is also stationed at the hospital, and it didn’t take long for the two families to become good friends.
The level of that friendship became apparent after tragedy struck the Darbins over Thanksgiving weekend.
Deciding to celebrate the holiday abroad, the Darbins spent a few days vacationing in Florence, Italy with their Chocolate Labs Hershey and Mia. As they were leaving town to head back, however, the Darbins got into a car accident, that resulted with Mia being ejected from the vehicle and running scared throughout Florence.
Hershey did not survive his injuries.
Though they tried finding Mia, the Darbins were unable to locate her before having to report back to Germany.
Not wanting their time with Mia to be left open-ended, Olson used social media to get word out about the accident and Mia’s disappearance.
She posted on Facebook:
“I know I don’t have any friends in Florence, but maybe you do, or maybe your friends do. Facebook connects people from everywhere so please share. My dear friends need a miracle!”
Within a few hours, word had spread throughout Italy, and Mia’s photo appeared on the front page of the TGRegione, an Italian newspaper, the next day.
“Many followers from Italy gave Ashley the information for Pet Detective Italia [an organization in Italy that helps locate lost/missing cats and dogs], so she contacted all of them and worked diligently to do whatever needed to be done to find Mia,” shared Olson’s mother, Sandy Krohn.
Paula also shared her amazement at the speed with which word was traveling, and how complete strangers were contributing to the rescue.
“We were at the ID office today [Nov. 29], and the guy processing Chad’s replacement ID (lost in the accident) is looking at the paperwork and says, ‘accident in Italy I read a post about you. I will get it out to my contacts in Italy, too,’” Paula posted. “Seriously, I have no idea who this guy is. He’s new. But look how the word has gotten out.”
It was later that day, just two days after the accident, that Ashley posted what everyone was waiting to hear: “Update! Mia has been found! Her owner is on his way to get her now . . . You are all so wonderful. Thank you so much for your efforts and prayers in finding Mia!”
In addition to bringing Mia home, Olson was able to help the Darbins receive closure by retrieving Hershey’s remains, which they were unable to do after the accident.
“Ashley made contact with people in Italy, and was able to locate Hershey’s body so they could get his collar and his ashes,” Krohn stated.
“My daughter has the biggest heart,” Krohn added, “and I am so proud of her.”
While reflecting upon those recent events, Olson shared with her followers that Mia’s survival can “only be explained by the pure grace of God.” Olson shared that if Mia had been ejected any sooner, she would have broken through the rear window. If it had happened any later, Mia would have been crushed on impact.
“These last three days have been heart-wrenching,” Olson posted, “but also a beautiful reminder that our God is ever present. He listens when we cry out to Him.
“Prayer, especially those lifted up by at least 1,500 people (I’m not even kidding!), is so powerful.
“It is my continued prayer that God provides healing for my dear friends. He is showing them that they are not alone in their suffering. He is near and is trying to soothe their broken hearts.”