A dog going missing is not all that uncommon. They can become disorientated while out on a run with their owner, get off their leash, or slip out of a door that has accidentally been left open in the home. In most cases, the dog is quickly reunited with its owner. They either return home of their own accord, they are found by someone else, or they are identified using their microchip. Unfortunately, some dogs are not reunited with their owners quite so quickly. I Heart Dogs tells the story of a Toy Fox Terrier called Duchess. Back in 2007, Duchess went missing from her home. Her owner, Katheryn Strang, explains that Duchess got out of the house when her son accidentally left open the back door of their home when he returned home from school.
By the time Strang returned home from work. Duchess had already been away from the home for a couple of hours. This meant that they did not know how far the dog had walked since, or in which direction. Therefore, they knew that finding her was potentially difficult. Duchess was only two years old at the time of her disappearance and had no experience of being out of the house on her own. Despite the challenges they knew they would face finding the dog, they embarked on their search for Duchess immediately. They searched the streets in the surrounding area and asked everyone they came across if they had seen her. It was all to no avail as their search was unsuccessful.
The next step was to put up posters in the local area. Strang was hoping that someone would have seen Duchess and get in touch with her. Sadly, this did not happen, and days passed without anyone in the area. Strand was heartbroken that she couldn’t find Duchess, and she was determined that she would not give up on her search. Strang then began visiting all the local rescue shelters each week as she still had hope that someone would find Duchess and taker her to the nearest animal shelter. At each visit, she would look at every dog in the shelters’ care to make sure that none of them were Duchess.
Although time was passing by with no sign of Duchess, Strang never gave up hope. Eventually, her faith paid off as after 12 long years of being missing, Duchess was finally found. Strang couldn’t believe it when she got the call to say that her dog was safe and well. What was even more surprising than the length of time that Duchess had been missing was how far the little dog had traveled since she had last been seen. Although her home was in Florida, she was discovered in Carnegie in Pennsylvania. This means that the dog had travelled more than 1,000 miles while she was missing. Whether she walked this distance, over what period, and if she was picked up at any point is something that Strang will never know.
However, Strang has learned the details of how Duchess was rescued. Now 14 years old, the dog was found hiding under a garden shed in Pennsylvania. When she was discovered, the poor dog was hungry, shivering, and had overgrown nails. The person who found her took the dog straight to her straight to the Humane Animal Rescue in Pennsylvania.
The staff at the rescue shelter checked the dog over and gave her a good meal. They also scanned her for a microchip. Fortunately, Strang had the foresight to have her dog fitted with one of these devices, and it allowed the shelter staff to identify Duchess and get in touch with Strang. Even after Duchess had gone missing, Strang continued to pay the $15 a year for the microchip, which is another sign that she had not given up hope of being reunited.
According to Pet Net, having a microchip fitted in your dog is one of the best ways to make sure that you are reunited with your dog in the event that you are separated. Each microchip is unique to the dog into which it is fitted, and the owner’s details are linked to the microchip number. They are virtually painless to insert in a procedure that takes just seconds, and a quick scan and computer search can quickly reunite a dog with its owner.
Thanks to the microchip, Strang and Duchess were reunited after 12 years apart. Strang describes how she had recently had surgery when she received the call from the animal shelter. It shocked her so much that she had to ring them back to confirm that they had really found her as the information seemed so unbelievable. She had to wait a while before she could collect Duchess because she wasn’t well enough to travel, but she could hardly wait. It is an 18-hour drive from Florida to Pennsylvania, but it was a journey that Strang was more than happy to undertake. She could not wait for her and Duchess to finally be reunited. Strang has said that their reunion was so emotional and that she cuddled the dog tightly, not wanting to let her go. She repeatedly told Duchess just how much she loved her.
Regardless of the fact that Duchess had been missing for 12 years, she seemed to know that she was home when Strang returned to Florida with her. Although there was a period of adjustment, Duchess has settled back into her former home really well. Strang says that the dog is now very calm and relaxed. It is almost as though she had never been away from home at all. This story is the perfect example of why a dog owner should never give up hope of being reunited with their missing dog. It may have taken 12 years, but Duchess is finally happy and back where she belongs with her loving owner.