Nothing pulls at the heartstrings quite as much as when you stumble across a battered “Lost Dog” sign on a telephone phone. Lost phone charger, lost car keys, lost socks — all minor annoyances that matter very little in the long run. But a lost pet can be devastating.
For many pet owners, a missing animal is like a missing child. One man endured this pain of a lost animal until an astonishing turn of events suggested that reuniting was possible. But to get his pup back, he was forced to take a huge risk.
Is there anything more universally understood than the pain of a missing pet? One Israeli man felt this pain himself when he lost his beloved Siberian Husky. But he couldn’t even fathom the strange place his pup would turn up.
On a regular day, he was the type of dog strangers in the park couldn’t take their eyes off of. He was healthy, with shiny black and white fur and lots of energy.
Because of all this, when the dog was found miles outside of Beer Sheva on a dank and dirty archaeological site, he was almost unrecognizable. The normally-energetic dog was covered in dirt and clearly malnourished. He was weak, skinny, and all alone.
The kids who found him immediately went over to him, curious about where he could have come from. Dogs didn’t just appeared from nowhere. But they had no idea what to do.
They did know he must belong to someone, and that whoever owned him probably missed him terribly. So the teenagers did the only thing they could think of: they took him to the police. Immediately, the police had a hunch about the dog.
The police remembered a missing dog that had been reported, and this dog matched the description. Still, there were hundreds of missing dogs in Beer Sheva — they couldn’t be absolutely sure this dog was the one they were looking for.
But when they called the potential owner, the man was thrilled — this was the call that could reunite him with his best friend. They told him to drive over to see if the dog was his…but he couldn’t wait that long.
The owner said there was an easier way to see if the dog was his, a faster way that would answer their question in a matter of minutes. When he told the police his idea, they were surprised, to say the least.
See, what they didn’t know is that Siberian Huskies are a talented breed when it comes to music. In fact, instead of barking, they howl in an almost melodic fashion. It’s this quirk that makes huskies stand out from the pack.
“Siberian Huskies are vocal. Head held high, they will produce one of the most haunting song-like sounds,” RescueEveryDog.org writes. The dog’s owner apparently discovered this hidden talent in his own dog — and he hoped it would come in handy now when they needed it the most.
Still, the police were understandably confused when the man told them that the only sure-proof way to identify the dog was for them to play music…and see if the dog sang along.
The officers readied themselves for disappointment; after all, what are the odds that a dog, let alone a weak and malnourished dog, could sing along to a song? Even if he belonged to a more “musical” breed, it all sounded extremely far-fetched…
Finally, the officers started playing music to see if the dog would react. Despite the happy, upbeat music, the weak dog stayed stretched out on the rug, stone-faced and silent. Doubt crept in — could this not be the right dog?
It all seemed to be a bust — until the owner told them to play the dog’s “favorite songs”: the theme song to the Israeli TV show, “Shemesh,” and his other favorite show, “Arthur.” They did, and then they watched and waited in anticipation.
When he heard the music, the dog immediately perked up, but he wasn’t singing. They kept the songs playing and watched for the smallest of tail twitches, the tiniest of head tilts, the smallest thumping of a paw…and then, it happened.
The dog started singing along. He tilted his head back and let loose a loud, wailing howl that could only belong to the missing dog. The Israeli police couldn’t help filming the dog’s performance! They knew they were seeing something truly special.
Maybe the songs reminded the dog of home sweet home; Maybe he knew that his beloved owner was on his way to see him! Whatever it was, it was clear that the husky was singing with a surprising amount of emotion.
With no doubt in their minds, the officers told the man that the dog was his. He rushed over to see his precious Siberian husky, his best friend who’d been missing for so long. The officers recorded their tearful reunion.
They were overjoyed to see each other. If it wasn’t obvious that the dog was his by the singing, then it was by the way they greeted each other. “I cried the whole way here,” the owner said, weeping into the dog’s fur.
The dog licked his owner’s face while the owner thanked the officers for bringing his best friend home. The sound of the dog’s “singing” may have sounded like whining to most people, but to his owner, it was music to his ears!
Meanwhile, half a world away, thousands of pet owners were left hoping they could re-unite with their lost furry friends just as this man had. See, in 2014, war erupted in Ukraine. Citizens were displaced, and, unfortunately, pets were abandoned.
With nowhere to turn, dogs took to the streets, scavenging what they could and avoiding the ever-growing wolf populations. While the humans fought with firepower, the animals were left fighting for survival.
Radio Free Europe
In June 2019, rescue workers for “Happy Animals,” a Ukrainian non-profit located in the city Mariupol, which sits along the Sea of Azov just a stone’s throw from Russia, came across a dog that’d seen his fair share of street-based horrors.
There was no way to identify him — he had no tags or microchip — and if rescuers were being honest, he looked terrible. Emaciated and covered in mange, they figured this pooch’s best days were most definitely behind him.
Happy Animals / Facebook
But the organization called itself Happy Animals for a reason. Determined to make him feel like a champ, workers considered putting the pooch’s photo on Facebook and seeing if someone might claim him. They had doubts, though.
For one, he was really old. The organization knew geezer dogs don’t get adopted as easily as the strapping young pups, and this guy’s rough condition didn’t exactly forecast a lifetime of backyard fun time.
Nevertheless, they threw the dog’s picture up on Facebook with a few details about him. It couldn’t hurt. However, once the post had a few hours to marinate online, rescue workers were stunned by the results.
Thousands of people shared his photo! Perhaps Ukrainians, so fed up with war and fighting, connected with the battered dog on a subconscious level. Sympathetic Facebook users noted they were drawn to the dog’s pain-filled eyes.
Incredibly, the Facebook message reached users all the way in Australia, one of which thought the dog looked oddly familiar to a family friend’s in Ukraine. Not one to let homeless dogs lie, the Australian contacted her friend in Europe.
When the message reached the Ukrainian woman, it must’ve dug up some long-buried emotions like an old bone. Because, two years earlier in 2017, she’d had a dog that looked like the one in the photo. But she hadn’t seen him since.
See, back then, someone had stolen her beloved dog named Lord right out of her backyard. She posted photos of her lost dog in every Facebook group that would allow it. She never received one response.
So in 2019, she was dumbfounded when she saw a dog that looked awfully familiar on her computer screen. But after two years, she figured there was no way this could be Lord. She’d already made peace with his absence.
Happy Animals / Facebook
Hope finally got the best of her, however, so she reached out to Happy Animals. The organization, stunned that their Facebook message actually found traction, set up a meeting between the possible former friends at the shelter.
The next morning, the woman headed over to the shelter, and when she stepped into the facilities, she saw the dog chained up in the yard. But when the dog shied away from her as she approached, she grew concerned this wasn’t Lord.
Happy Animals / Facebook
Moments later, though, it seemed memories and familiar smells came flooding back to the pooch because he started taking happy steps. Then, he started prancing and shaking. Then, he went absolutely nuts.
Happy Animals / Facebook
After two years’ absence, a fatigued Lord found the strength to jump into the waiting arms of the woman who’d taken care of him for so long. He let his tongue fly, indiscriminately licking whatever part of his best friend’s face that he could.
Happy Animals / Facebook
And at the reunion’s crescendo, Lord and his friend embraced in a very human, very real hug. Lord’s owner wept, relieved and elated her dog was finally coming home where he belonged. There wasn’t a dry eye in the shelter.
Happy Animals / Facebook
The reunion, the shelter later wrote, was nothing short of a “miracle,” and the entire staff embraced “tears of joy” as they watched Lord get crazy happy. Just two days before, they’d all but written the dog off as a lost cause, destined to stay in the kennels forever.
“We thank everyone who shared our post,” the shelter wrote on Facebook. It’s “thanks to you that the dog’s life was saved, and peace returned to his owner’s soul!” Rescuers knew finding a lost pet’s home was usually a team effort.
Happy Animals / Facebook
This actually tends to be the case for most lost animals — communities must come together to find their homes. In fact, a watchful neighbor helped a young man thousands of miles from Lord get one step closer to reuniting with his beloved kitten.
See, Jon Gulla was craving both responsibility and love one day in 2012, so he followed in the footsteps of so many young adults before him and went searching for the perfect pet.
Jon Gulla / Facebook
When he saw two cats — Julie and her brother, Jack — Jon knew he’d found the perfect pair. He brought the two home and let ’em run hog wild around his place. The kittens cuddled together. They played together. They were a delight.
This made it particularly painful when, shortly after the adoption, Jon had to leave Julie and Jack with his mother. He was off to college and wasn’t into the idea of hiding cats in his dorm room.
Jon’s mother, Lorinda, welcomed the kittens into her abode because, c’mon, who wouldn’t? Julie had a little white spot on her fur that made her just so darn cute. But Lorinda’s joy in living with the two kittens was unexpectedly cut short.
Being that she was a cat and prone to bizarre fits of panic, Julie took off running one day. She just scooted out the door and headed down the street. “I couldn’t find her,” Lorinda recalled. “I was just beside myself.”
Devastated by the breakup of his dynamic kitten duo, Jon teamed up with his mom to find the missing feline. They wandered the neighborhood, hanging up posters, jingling bags of cat treats, and calling Julie!
Frantic searches for the cat halted, however, when doctors diagnosed Jon with lymphoma. With a fight for his life now ahead of him, he could no longer focus on the cat he so dearly loved.
The Good Doctor
Six years passed. Jon beat cancer, married his long-time girlfriend, found a new job, and set-up shop in Indianapolis, 25 miles away from his old home in Carmel. Things were looking up. But he never stopped thinking about Julie.
Xu Chen Yang / Facebook
Perhaps it was for that reason his mother was browsing PawBoost Lost & Found Pets, a page on Facebook dedicated to reuniting pet owners with, well, their lost pets. A certain post on it piqued her interest.
A woman named Christine McKeon wrote that she’d recently seen a cat under a shed in her backyard. The cat, she noted, was skittish, and just a little bit mean. It didn’t sound anything like Julie.
Most concerning of all was that the post didn’t mention the white spot on Julie’s belly, which would’ve been a good detail to include, Lorinda thought, were someone trying to find this cat’s owner.
Still, even after six years, she, like Jon, was drawn to the idea that Julie was definitely still out there, looking for them. She knew they’d be kicking themselves for the rest of their lives if they didn’t follow up with Christine.
So, Jon made the drive, white-knuckle clenching the steering wheel in anticipation. In less than half-an-hour, he arrived at Christine’s house and stood before the shed a mean, stray, black cat called home.
Marketplace Homes / Flickr
With every ounce of love he could muster, just as he and his mother had done six years before in the streets of suburbia, Jon called Julie’s name. And nothing happened.
Jon Gulla / Facebook
But understanding that cats are cats and don’t really come when you call them, Jon gave it another go. Julieeeee, he called. Julieeee. Then, two glowing eyes peaked out at Jon from the darkness beneath the shed.
Jon in her sights, the cat once called mean and skittish emerged. “She came out running from under the shed,” Christine recalled, “like ‘Oh hey, I know this guy.” Soon, she was face-to-face with Jon.
And then she started purring like a lawnmower engine! She rubbed against Jon’s legs, and, after he bent down to pick her up, she crawled right up on to his shoulders! Still, Jon needed to be convinced this was his Julie.
“I turned her around…and I said ‘does she have a white spot?'” Jon explained. The folks gathered around confirmed: “She has a white spot on her stomach!” Jon couldn’t believe it. After six years, he finally found his cat!
In that moment of reunion, Jon pet Julie and noticed her fur was surprisingly well-kept. To him, it meant that she only recently moved in under the shed. Someone had been taking care of her over the years.
Delighted to have his cat back, Jon looked forward to another reunion — Julie and Jack’s. Would the siblings even remember the short time they spent together? Would they get along?
All of Jon’s anxieties melted away, however, when he put Julie down beside Jack for the first time. The two went right back to their old tricks, running around and playing together. Jon was overwhelmed.
“It’s almost like seeing a ghost or something,” he said of seeing Julie in his home. Still, this was one ghost Jon was happy to have haunt his house!
Jon couldn’t help but be thankful to whoever cared for Julie over those six years. There wasn’t a chance in the world she would’ve made it on her own over that time. Oddly, though, some animals do prove surprisingly self-sufficient on their own.
In November of 2018, for instance, when one of the most destructive wildfires in California history ripped through the Golden State, people were forced to make tough choices. Animals were, too.
The Drinks Business
For Andrea Gaylord, the decision to abandon the home that had been in her family for ten generations was one of the hardest she’d ever made. But even as she watched as the century-old home went up in flames, something else made her heart ache more.
As the Camp Fire made its way through Paradise, Andrea’s guard dogs, Madison and Miguel, had taken off and vanished without a trace. Though she and her husband had searched tirelessly for their beloved pets, the encroaching blaze forced the couple to flee, leaving the fate of the dogs unknown.
Andrea and her husband fled to a nearby shelter, where, alongside hundreds of other evacuees, they waited for the fire to be extinguished. All the while, thoughts of Madison and Miguel never left her mind.
Finally, after 17 days of non-stop firefighting, the raging Camp Fire blaze was contained. Like her fellow Paradise residents, Andrea was eager to return home, hoping somehow her dogs had survived. But when she and her husband attempted to leave the shelter, they were told that Paradise was still too unsafe to return to.
That’s when she contacted Shayla Sullivan of K9 Paw Print Rescue, who had actively been rescuing lost pets from areas affected by the Camp Fire. After learning of the situation, Shayla vowed to do whatever she could to reunite Andrea with Madison and Miguel.
Shayla Sullivan / Facebook
However, as soon as Shayla began her search, she received word of a dog matching Madison’s and Miguel’s descriptions wandering through the small city of Citrus Heights near Sacramento. The city was 85 miles south of Paradise.
Shayla drove down there, and when she arrived, she was stunned to find the dog described to her was, in fact, Miguel! Unbelievably, the dog had traveled from Andrea’s home in Paradise and had been picked up by another local rescue organization.
Andrea was overjoyed when she heard the news about Miguel, but Shayla wasn’t satisfied with finding just one of the two pooches. And so, loading up her car once more, Shayla headed for Paradise.
The roads were barely navigable as Shayla made her way through the once-vibrant town, a graveyard of charred homes and vehicles peering out at her from beneath the ashes of burnt treetops. Forget dogs for a second: with so much destruction, was it possible anything could’ve survived out here?
Upon reaching Andrea’s burned-down property, however, Shayla got her answer. As she surveyed the scorched earth, Shayla noticed movement in the pile of rubble that was once the hundred-year-old home. She approached, her heart beating wildly…
It was Madison! Apparently, the faithful guard dog had returned after the fire had been extinguished and was now sitting watch of his former home! But even with the dog alive and well, there was still one challenge that Shayla would have to face.
Being that Madison was no lover of strangers, the wary dog immediately took off when Shayla approached him (some guard dog!). Shayla knew, if she wasn’t able to catch Madison, the dog would surely perish from a lack of food and water. Shayla needed a plan.
So after leaving some fresh water and a bowl of food out for Madison, Shayla returned to Andrea to share the good news and relay her difficulty in catching him. The pair was stumped over the predicament but devised the perfect method for luring the protective pup back home.
Using an article of Andrea’s clothing, Shayla used the smell to calm Madison and draw her back to the property. And when the guard dog returned, he found his owners and brother waiting there for him!
The tearful reunion was marked by excited licks and yelps from Madison, who was then fed a hefty bag of his favorite treat — Wheat Thins. Even in the face of catastrophe, Madison stayed loyal to his family and protected the home at all costs.
In all the destruction, this loyalty was not lost on Andrea. “You are the best dog,” she told Madison through joyful tears. “The best.”