It’s always hard to lose a beloved pet, and even harder to accept that they’re really gone. Your dog is at your side for years, and then one day they just never come back, and it’s heartbreaking.
But years after one woman accepted the loss of her dog, she got some surprising news about his fate.
Melisa Manning, from Palm Desert, California, adopted her dog Nico in college, and the two became best friends. They’d do all kinds of outside activities together, so it was noting out of the ordinary when Manning brought her dog on a desert hiking trip on New Year’s 2014.
“He had just not been a leash dog any time we went out,” she told Inside Edition. “We had done horseback riding and hikes and tons of things in the desert at that point.”
However, during their trip a gun was fired and scared Nico off.
The dog ran off into the desert—and was impossible to find.
Manning searched the area for Nico. When he wasn’t found, she left out food hoping he’d return home. And as days passed, she held out hope that some stranger would find Nico, realize he was microchipped, and return him to her.
But it didn’t happen, and as more time went on, it became increasingly clear that Nico wasn’t coming back.
“I continuously tried to think, ‘Oh yeah, he’s going to come back.’ I told my boyfriend, I told my family, ‘Hey, when I get that call, he’s going to join our family, whatever situation we’re in,'” Manning told Inside Edition.
“I just kept saying, ‘Hey, that call could come. He could figure it out.’ I was probably slightly delusional sounding, but to me, he was my first dog, he was my everything—my first kid.”
Four years passed since Nico ran away. Since then, Manning has moved on, starting a family and raising a young daughter.
But after all that time, Manning got a call that she couldn’t believe.
“I got a call from the Avid Microchip company saying, ‘We found your dog,” she told KMIR. “I thought, ‘it’s not possible. This is a mistake. Can they make this big of a mistake?”
It seemed too good to be true. Nico had apparently been found in a man’s backyard in Indio a few months ago. After he took the dog in, a microchip led back to Manning—even after nearly half a decade.
Manning was finally reunited with her dog—and had no more doubts it was really him.
“I saw him, and he came running to me, he licked me, jumps in my car, he shook my hand,” Manning said.
Where has Nico been all this time? The dog was underweight and had some broken teeth, but was otherwise in healthy condition considering he was missing for so long.
“I do think that he was scrounging for food in multiple locations, and just trying to fend for himself in some way,” veterinarian Shakira Jameson said.
She added that the story shows the importance of getting your dogs microchipped, because it can lead to long-overdue miracles like this.
For Manning, she’s thrilled to finally have her old friend home. While things have changed for both them in the past few years, Manning is looking forward to having her “first child” be part of the family again.
“My favorite thing is watching him play with my daughter,” she told Inside Edition. “When I adopted him, that’s what I thought; he’s going to grow up to be my family dog, and now he gets to be our family dog.”
“I’m brought to tears because I look at him and I’m sad for what he went through but then I cry because I’m so joyful for the time that I get to spend with him now,” she told KMIR.