It took 12 years and more than 1,000 miles, but Dutchess is finally coming home.
The fox terrier, who was found hiding under a shed in Carnegie, Penn., last week, has been missing since 2007, when she disappeared from owner Katheryn Strang's home in Boca Raton, Fla.
Dutchess was then given to Humane Animal Rescue, which managed to track the pet's owner through a microchip she'd implanted years earlier. The shelter said in a press release that Strang was shocked when they called her.
"I can't believe you're calling me right now," Strang said, according to the release. "I can't believe this is happening."
Strang then drove from Florida to Pennsylvania, eager to reunite with her long lost pet. The shelter is still not sure how Dutchess, who is now 14 years old, managed to make the journey herself.
In the meantime, workers at the humane society helped nurse the dog — who was hungry, cold and in need of a nail trim — back to full health.
Dutchess and Strang reunited on Friday, with shelter workers and media members crowding around to catch their reactions. Strang said she'd had a difficult time without her pet.
"I'm just so happy to have her back. I cried so many nights without her," Strang told KDKA-TV on Friday. "I was at work, and my son, who was 12 years old, accidentally opened the door in the afternoon after school one day and we never saw her again."
It was an emotional reunion, and one credited largely to Strang's decision to microchip her pet.
"I held out hope because I paid for that microchip every year," the owner told KDKA. "It was $15 a year, I wasn’t going to give up hope for that. Always hope."
Zac Seymour, manager of digital communications for Humane Animal Rescue, said in a press release that only around 4 percent of the animals brought into the shelter are microchipped. He used the story as a chance to remind owners to microchip their pets.
Dutchess will now return to her original home. in Florida, where she'll find a few new companions, including Strang's other two fox terriers. For the shelter's part, Seymour said they were just happy to be part of such a heartwarming event.
"Moments like these are so refreshing and motivate us to keep working harder every day," Seymour told Today. "We wish Dutchess nothing but the best with her family."