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Dog reunited with family 4 years after running away from home

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When Bradley Wieferich of Lansing, Mich., first listened to the voicemail someone left him about a found dog Friday, he wasn’t quite sure what to make of it.

“I actually thought it was a prank phone call,” he said.

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A dog named Bambi who went missing four years ago in Lansing, Mich., was reunited with her family Saturday. Toledo police found her Friday and took her to the county shelter, where they scanned her microchip and were able to get in touch with her owners.

Lucas County Canine Care & Control Enlarge

Then he got a call from a microchip company and quickly called the first number back. A clerk at the Lucas County Canine Care & Control gave him the tan and white female dog’s description and reiterated that the information registered to the dog’s microchip proved she was Bambi, the family dog lost more than four years ago.

“I was stunned,” Mr. Wieferich said.

Bambi, who also goes by Baby, is now about 12 years old. Toledo police found her wandering Friday near Huron Street and Stickney Avenue and took her to the county shelter.

“She was very thin, but very sweet,” said Laura Simmons-Wark, community outreach coordinator for the county shelter. “Who knows where she’s been all this time. We have no idea how she made it all the way down here.”

Mr. Wieferich and his family got Bambi at 7 or 8 months old. She started escaping after her companion, a golden retriever named Rusty, died of cancer. Around the same time, the couple’s second daughter was born. The family later brought home another dog with the hope that Bambi would find comfort in having a new friend, but she ran off about six months later.

“There was a lot going on,” Mr. Wieferich said. “Maybe it was too much.”

The family searched for Bambi for months to no avail. They assumed either someone else had taken her in or she had died.

When Mr. Wieferich walked through the Lucas County shelter Saturday to identify the dog, he initially walked right by her without realizing it.

“Her face had paled in color so much,” he said.

But then he noticed identifying marks on her muzzle, and Bambi began her old greeting howl.

“She was ready to come home,” Mr. Wieferich said.

The children and other dog are older and the family lives in a different house, but Bambi is settling back in “better than expected,” he said. She remembers her obedience training and tricks, and has been sleeping a lot on a new orthopedic bed. She has an appointment Wednesday to see a veterinarian.

“I’m really amazed that she’s back,” Mr. Wieferich said.

Mrs. Simmons-Wark said Bambi’s family reunion more than four years in the making is the longest she is aware of at the county shelter. It shows the importance of microchipping and of keeping the information registered to a pet’s microchip up to date even after that pet goes missing, she said.

“If she had been scanned at any point in these four years, she could have been back home sooner,” she said. “So it’s also a good reminder that if you find a dog, take it to get scanned. Not all stray dogs are homeless; some are just lost.”

Contact Alexandra Mester at: amester@theblade.com419-724-6066, or on Twitter @AlexMesterBlade.

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