'He's like, I know I'm home': Arizona dog reunited with family after nearly a year
MARICOPA COUNTY, Ariz. - Jasper, a 13-year-old dog, went missing for nearly a year until a stranger found him, checked for a microchip, and reunited him with his family in Maricopa County.
His owners, Judy and Ginny, had already marked him as "deceased" with the county when submitting licensing information, thinking the worst had happened.
Jasper went missing on Dec. 28 of last year and Judy had barely taken her first walk around the neighborhood since he went missing days ago because she missed her walking partner too much.
"The field officer says Jasper immediately recognized them and was just as excited as they were to be reunited," says Maricopa County Animal Care & Control. "They were all very happy and grateful to be reunited. Jasper’s going to get a bath and groom, as well as a vet visit as soon as possible for an overall exam."
The shelter says this is just another reason why microchipping your pets and keeping the information updated is crucial.
RELATED: Want a pet? Arizona Humane Society waiving adoption fees through Oct. 30
‘We kept hoping’
In an interview with Jasper's family, they say he had quite the adventure, yet they still don't know exactly what's been doing all this time.
So, how did he go missing?
"She went to get him breakfast, and he went out in the yard, which he always does after a walk, and he didn't come back in right away," Judy said.
One of the gates that morning had blown open and Jasper was nowhere to be found.
"We walked every single street, and alley, talked to every person in the neighborhood for a mile. Stopped people, then came home. Ginny made posters," Judy said.
They looked and looked for months. Seasons came and went, but still no sign of Jasper.
"We kept hoping, we kept hoping, but I can be honest and say at night I would think I'd hear him. I'd swear I saw him in the yard. The not knowing, I think it what was killing me the most," Jasper's family said.
They finally got a call on Oct. 23 from the shelter.
"'Are you still looking for Jasper?' I said, ‘Well yes.' She said, 'We think we've found him. He matches the chip.'"
Within 10 minutes, they were reunited.
"It was like this 10 months of grown matted hair. He could not even see through. I lifted up some hair to see him, and I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, this is Jasper.’"
Seeing this type of reunion, county officials say, really is extraordinary.
As for Jasper, he's happy to be back at his old stomping grounds.
"He knew his name and he wanted to go in the house right away," Judy said. "He's like, I know I'm home."
While they'll never know exactly where he's been, they have their suspicions "He's not telling, so we suspect he went to Vegas," they joked.
One thing's for sure – Jasper's rough days are behind him.
"We're going to resume our park walks," Jasper's family said.