It’s always heartbreaking to lose a pet. It is especially hard when they just disappear without a trace, never to be found and leaving their family to wonder what happened to them.
For one family, their dog’s fate was a mystery for years—until a phone call revealed the truth.
Bradley Wieferich of Lansing, Michigan, and his family were the loving owners of a dog named Bambi, who they adopted when she was just 7 months old.
They also had another pup, a Golden Retriever named Rusty, who kept Bambi company. But when Rusty died of cancer, Bambi started running away.
The family tried to get a new dog to keep Bambi company, but to no avail. Around the same time, the Wieferichs had their second child, and the sudden changes may have overwhelmed Bambi.
“There was a lot going on,” Wieferich told The Toledo Blade. “Maybe it was too much.”
Then Bambi ran away once again—this time, seemingly for good.
The family searched for months, but ultimately concluded that Bambi was gone. Either she had died or had been taken in by a new family, but either way it didn’t look like she was coming back.
Four years passed. The family is now living in a new home; the kids have grown. Life has gone on since the heartbreaking loss of their dog, and they certainly never imagined they’d see her again.
But then, Wieferich got a shocking phone call.
On May 4, Wieferich listened to a voicemail from a microchip company—that said his lost dog had just been found.
“I actually thought it was a prank phone call,” he said.
It was hard to believe—but it was no joke. Wieferich had had Bambi microchipped with his contact information, so when the dog was found recently—all the way in Toledo, Ohio—they knew who to call.
The company described the dog, and Wieferich realized that against all odds this really was Bambi. “I was stunned,” he said.
After a four year separation, the family was finally reunited with their dog.
When Wieferich picked up Bambi, now 12 years old, at a shelter in Lucas County, Ohio, he almost didn’t recognize her. But when the two saw each other, Bambi greeted him with a howl.
“Her face had paled in color so much,” Wieferich told The Blade. “She was ready to come home.”
No one is sure exactly what Bambi has been up to all these years.
“Who knows where she’s been all this time,” said Laura Simmons-Wark, community outreach coordinator for the county shelter. “We have no idea how she made it all the way down here.”
Despite the long absence and new surroundings, Bambi has adjusted well.
Wieferich is glad that his dog was miraculously returned to him thanks to microchipping—he just wishes someone had checked it sooner. He told The Blade that he hopes the story will remind people to always check for a microchip identification when a stray dog is found.
“It’s … a good reminder that if you find a dog, take it to get scanned,” he said. “Not all stray dogs are homeless; some are just lost.”