When Todo the dog went missing nearly three years ago, Douglas Walker and his wife, Janice, were devastated.
The Shih Tzu disappeared from their Atlanta home, back in 2012; he's believed to have been stolen. And through all the time since, and despite some tough odds, the couple thought that their dog might eventually come back.
"We were always hoping," says Douglas Walker.
Last week, that hope came true in a reunion that is part mystery, part miracle and entirely a great PSA for microchips.
Douglas and Janice Walker are reunited with their dog at PAWS Atlanta. Photo credit: PAWS Atlanta
A couple found Todo wandering around an apartment complex -- why the dog was there, isn't known -- and brought him to PAWS Atlanta to see if that shelter could help this guy find his way home.
His chances weren't good.
According to a white paper put out by the microchipping company Home Away, an estimated 10 million pets are lost or stolen every year, and just over 20 percent of those lost dogs that wind up in shelters are reunited with their owners.
Microchipped pets fare better -- more than half got back to their families. Which is how Todo got to be one of the lucky ones, too; shelter staff scanned the little white guy and indeed found a microchip.
Adoptions counselor Heather Hartman left a message at a phone number associated with the doggie's chip. (Even there, Todo was lucky, the Home Away paper finds that just 58 percent of microchips were properly registered.)
The Walkers called right back, and then immediately headed over.
"Took them maybe 20 minutes to get here. They dropped everything and came," says Hartman.
When the Walkers arrived, Todo began squirming with excitement in Hartman's arms. It was a joyous reunion.
"They had us in tears," Hartman says.
"God is good," says Douglas Walker.
"The microchip works," adds his wife. "You don't think it does, but it actually works."
One daughter has gone off to college in the years since Todo has been gone. The other is getting ready to graduate from high school.
Todo himself turned 10 years old, this past weekend. To celebrate, the Walkers made plans to bring their dog to the vet, since they don't know what sort of medical treatments he's seen in the last few years.
"We don't know if he's had a rabies shot or anything," says Douglas Walker.
The pair do feel really sure, though, that Todo knows he is home, where he belongs, where they hope he will now be staying.
"He still acts the same. He knows who everybody is," says Janice Walker. "It's a beautiful thing."
"He's so happy," her husband adds, his voice bursting with excitement. "We love him. We really love him."
Todo looks positively thrilled to be back with his people. Photo credit: Janice Walker
Go get your pets microchipped! The completely safe procedure can be done at most vets' offices for less than $50. Some nonprofits and shelters offer free or lower-cost options, as well.
After that, don't forget to register the doggone chip.
And get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have an animal story to share!