It’s always heartbreaking to see a stray dog, fending for itself and maybe even abandoned by its owners. Luckily, there are volunteers across the country willing to take care of these lone animals.
When one woman took care of a pup off the streets, she worked to find it a home—and when she learned her secret, she went above-and-beyond to make things right.
Back in January, a deaf 1-year-old stray boxer mix was brought to Harris County Animal Shelter in Houston. When no one claimed her, she was picked up after a week by a Minnesota-based group called Ruff Start Rescue.
The pooch, dubbed Zooey, was fostered by the rescue’s intake manager Lexi Johnson—who quickly fell for the unlucky pup.
“We were told that she was really, really sweet, and very dog friendly,” Johnson told The Dodo. “She proved to be exactly what they said she was—a totally sweet and wonderful girl.”
However, she noticed something didn’t quite add up about the dog:
Despite being deaf and a stray, Zooey was trained to recognize sign language commands.
The dog recognized signs like “sit” and “shake,” indicating that she must’ve at some point been part of a caring home.
“You could tell that somebody had worked with her on her basic commands,” Johnson said. “She’s not your typical 2-year-old street dog that has zero manners.”
As her foster guardian, Johnson worked hard to find Zooey a forever home, but while there were plenty of applicants, all of whom loved Zooey’s personality, they inevitably all fell through.
But it may have been fate intervening, because it turned out Zooey already had a family.
In April, someone saw a post about the dog on the Harris County Animal Shelter Facebook page—and left a comment saying they recognized the dog as their own “Penelope.”
It was the dog’s original owners, finally tracking her down!
The family, from Houston, had been looking for Penelope ever since she escaped from their yard at the beginning of the year.
“She had gotten out of an open gate,” Johnson told The Dodo. “Somebody had forgotten to completely latch the gate, and she was able to sneak right out.”
After discovering Penelope’s rightful owners were out there looking for her, there was only one thing for Ruff Start to do:
They loaded her in a van and drove her all the way to Houston!
They made it a mission to get the dog home, even if it meant a 2,614 mile drive from Minnesota to Texas. Johnson flew down to see the reunion, as did the dog’s other foster mom Giselle Krohn.
All the travel was worth it to see the heartwarming, long-overdue reunion between Penelope and her real mother, Mandy Lyons.
Lyons couldn’t believe she was seeing her dog again.
“She looked at her, and she looked at her again and was like, ‘Is this real?’” Johnson said. “And then she went over there, she was like, ‘Oh yeah, this is it.’”
“I don’t think there was a dry eye in the house.”
The dog’s three “moms” all celebrated Penelope making it back to her rightful home.
“I was so happy and sad at the same time,” Johnson said. “I was happy because they were reunited, but sad because … it’s heartbreaking to think that it was five months when she was without her mama.”
“But it was amazing.”
You won’t believe this dog’s journey before being reunited with her family after five months ❤️We are so honored to be a part of this special reunion with our friends at Ruff Start Rescue!
Posted by Houston & Harris County Animal Volunteers on Friday, April 27, 2018