RENO. Nev. (KOLO) His name is Dash and much of his story will remain a mystery.
This much we do know. Eight years ago, this little black chihuahua disappeared from a back yard in Sparks. Recently he was found wandering the streets in northeast Reno,
Turned in to Animal Services as a stray, he went unclaimed and was transferred to the Nevada Humane Society. But he carried in his body the key to his identity--a microchip. Some checking revealed his owner was Katrina Zmaila. As it turned out she had moved to Oklahoma two years ago.
It took some time for the letter to reach her. At first she thought it was a long-delayed reminder to relicense a pet she'd lost long ago. She paused before opening it.
"My first feeling was upset and then I was afraid because I knew he was older and I was afraid he'd been euthanized."
Zmaila reached out for help. One of her emails came to us.
Luck--at long last-- was with Dash. The Humane Society is a no-kill shelter. Still, when we first contacted them, another possibility seemed very likely. Dogs and cats, especially chihuahuas don't stay long at the Humane Society's Reno shelter.
"People do adopt the little guys very quickly regardless of age," says NHS's Kimberly Wade. "So there was a very good chance that Dash would have been adopted into another home and when she called we would have had to give her the unfortunate news."
But the years had left Dash with some medical issues, His teeth needed attention. So he had not yet been put up for adoption.
Today, those issues addressed, he's ready to go home to an owner who hadn't seen him in eight years.
"He was just a little lover," says Zmaila. "He was such a sweet dog. We all called him 'boyfriend'. That was actually his nickname."
That has not changed.
There's gray in the muzzle now and he's packed on a couple pounds, but the tail still works and for a guy who's just had dental surgery, I'd say he's still that happy, sweet guy.
He's also a survivor whose story is incomplete as it is holds some lessons. He disappeared from a secure back yard, wearing a collar, license and ID. Katrina Zmaila did everything she could to find him. Contacting animal services, local vets.
"We put up flyers. I mean we were pretty heartbroken that he went missing that way because we had no idea what had happened to him."
She eventually came to believe he'd been stolen. Only he knows what happened or anything about the life he's been living since then, and he's not talking. The tiny microchip implanted in his body, however, gave us the happy ending.
"If you microchip, you know, sometimes a miracle will happen," says Zmaila, "and eight years later you'll get your dog back, hopefully sooner for everyone else."
Actually microchips result in reunions all the time, but usually in days, not years. Washoe Animal Services offers free microchipping. You'll find a link to their site here.
Tuesday, Dash is flying to Oklahoma to be reunited with Katrina Zmaila, who says her main worry now is how Dash will fit in with the other family pets, in particular another Chihuahua named Batman.
After all he's been through, our bet is they'll find a way to make it work.
We'll let you know.