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Harrowing Rescue of a Local Couple’s Lost Dog Inspires Graphic Novel at Comic-Con


Doctor with book
Doctor with the book about his rescue. Photo courtesy of the Cool Jerk website

A San Diego couple have turned their harrowing experience with a lost pet into a graphic novel that is making its debut at Comic-Con this year.

The book is titled “88 Hours: Lost and Scared” and it recounts the experience of Paul Horn and Darlene Alilain-Horn, who lost their dog, Doctor, a 10-year-old McNab shepherd mix, in 2018.

The dog was left in the care of a pet sitter and got out when the front door was left open, beginning a multi-day search by the Horns. Flashlights in hand, they searched nearby canyons at night. They created large, detailed posters and put them up around neighborhoods. They contacted Babs Fry, a well-known, local dog rescuer to get advice. They put their search on social media, grabbing the attention of friends and others.

The story had a happy ending and after the couple were reunited with their dog, Paul Horn began hearing from friends who had followed the story and were riveted by it. Some even suggested they document the search.

The idea wasn’t far-fetched for the couple.

Horn is a graphic designer and a Comic-Con regular who created a comic strip series, “Cool Jerk,” about a group of wacky teens living in Southern California that later was developed intro graphic novels. Darlene Alilain-Horn, a food writer, and Paul created a semi-autobiographical collection of strips about food and food blogging called “The Girl with the Donut Tattoo.”

The result is “88 Hours,” which includes drawings, maps, screen captures and photos.

“How the book is laid out, it’s like a crime procedural,” said Horn.

Horn said he hopes the book provides some lessons on what to do and what not to do for pet owners who lose their pets.

“This happens a lot,” he said, citing dogs that run away when they hear fireworks or thunderstorms.

One dollar from each sale of the book will go to the pet rescue organization operated by Fry.

And each book also has a paw print from Doctor.

As for Doctor, Horn brought him to Comic-Con on Wednesday and plans to bring him Sunday.

“He is a celebrity,” said Horn.

The book is available at cooljerk.com/shop.

Luis Monteagudo Jr. is a freelance writer and pop culture enthusiast. He has written for The San Diego Union-Tribune, USA Today and numerous other publications.


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