5 Epic California Lost Pet Reunions

Sarah Sypniewski

Who doesn’t love a good lost pet reunion story? There are thousands of good ones out there, but here are 5 epic tales among epic tales. No, I’m not crying, YOU’RE CRYING.

Josie

1. Josie - Josie the Border Collie mix was lost for 50 days after she scaled a fence at a doggy daycare. The search team had to traverse urban and wilderness settings, as Josie made her way through a busy Los Angeles neighborhood into a secluded hiking area. An already skittish dog, Josie remained in hiding for nearly the entire search. A handful of tips came in from hikers, and she was even caught on a nearby college’s security camera, but she always disappeared too quickly for anyone to recover her.

Still, Team Josie remained steadfast, searching every day and night. After weeks of around the clock surveillance, the team got the break they needed. Josie’s mom Lori and search team volunteer Erin were out walking the trail. Lori was playing a video on her phone of Josie and Lori playing fetch together. It was getting late and the sun had nearly set. Suddenly, Lori felt compelled to look behind her. When she turned around, there was Josie, standing there in the in the middle of the trail. Lori dropped to the ground, so as not to frighten Josie, and tossed her chicken. When Josie still didn’t move, Lori gave a firm “JOSIE COME.” And wouldn’t you know it? She did. And the rest is history. You can read the full story and see more photos here.

Buster-and-Maeby

2. Buster – Only 3 weeks after his family had adopted him in Marina Del Rey, California, Buster the Lab/Dachshund mix (left with his sister, Maeby) went missing when he got spooked and slipped out of a collar while coming home from a walk. Given the fact that they had not had much time together, Buster’s new mom, Kristy, was worried she would never see him again. Despite her fears, she launched a full campaign to find him, including putting up flyers, dispatching robocalls, doing stakeouts with Buster’s canine sister, cooking bacon outside at 3 am, and more. Still, nothing happened. No tips, no calls, nothing. It was extremely discouraging, but she kept at it.

And then, on the 30th day, she got a call around noon. Someone was sure they had seen a starving little dog matching Buster’s description foraging near Kristy’s house. She raced across town from work, and with the help of several neighbors (including a miraculously placed kayaker), she was able to recover a trembling, emaciated Buster. Although he was missing for longer than he’d been with Kristy, he still clung to her when she grabbed him. He has since gained all his weight back, as well as a newfound sense of confidence! For full story and photos, click here.

Papi

3. Papi - Papi the Pit Bull got out of his yard in Watts, California when a worker left a gate open. His mom, Amanda, a long-time animal rescuer in Los Angeles, was devastated. She had saved Papi when he was a very sick puppy with parvo. She had helped thousands of pets in the past, but now it was time for her to ask for help.

For 52 days, Amanda and her friends and family searched the streets of South LA. It was hard because Pit Bulls like Papi are very common in that area, so although they got a lot of tips and calls, it always turned out not to be Papi. But in the process, Amanda would always save the Papi lookalike and get them off the streets. Over the course of looking for Papi, she saved over twenty dogs. But then, on the 52nd day, Amanda got her miracle. She was driving her husband to work when a skinny black dog passed in front of their car. She got out to save him, and when she and the dog got into the car, Amanda’s husband, yelled, “IT’S HIM! IT’S PAPI!” He was so thin, she didn’t even know it was him at first! When she realized it, a rush of emotion came over everyone. She was just doing what she did--saving dogs in a very needy part of town--and it turns out, she saved her own dog--again! Full story here.

Striker,

4. Striker- Striker the Husky got out of his house in Van Nuys, California accidentally, and as his owners frantically went out after him, a Good Samaritan was able to catch him. Before the finder could even look at Striker’s tags, a man and two girls approached him, claiming that Striker was theirs (they even had a leash). The Good Samaritan took him at his word. It would be nearly a year before the two were reunited. Jonathan never gave up, even after so long. He kept posting flyers, following up on leads, and posting on social media. And then, one fateful day, he got THE call from a woman whose friend had found a husky who looked an awful lot like Striker--50 miles away! Jonathan knew from the photo it was him. He drove out immediately and the two were reunited amidst cries of joy. You can see more photos and details here.

Trigger

5. Trigger - Trigger the highly skittish Aussie had spent 6 months with his rescuer Kelly, getting rehabbed and learning to trust after spending most of his life on the streets. Eventually, a loving family adopted him and took him on adventures. During one of their trips he got loose. When the adopter called Kelly, they told her he was last seen running down CA interstate 5, a major freeway, in the dark. Kelly knew she had to act fast and made the four and a half hour drive to the location to start searching in the middle of the night.

Thanks to social media, rescuers from all over the state heard his plight and came forward to help, even before the sun rose. As Trigger ran through fields and hid along the freeway, more people joined the search. There were harrowing moments of driving down the wrong side of the road, encountering questionable roadside characters, and desperate climbs up and down hillsides. Finally, Kelly got ahead of Trigger--and with the help of her dog Moxie--was able to leash him. He wasn’t loose more than 24 hours, but with the freeway traffic hammering past them and knowing any false move could prove fatal, it was a terrifying ordeal. More photos and details here.

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