Lifestyle & Human Interest

After Finding Dead Dog on Side of Road, Grieving Elderly Man Shocked When Shelter Says His Was Found Alive


Everyone remembers their first dog. For some, it was a special pup they grew up with. Others wait a long time to have their own place before getting their first dog.

Ralph Johnson, an older gentleman in Sacramento, California, who’d never had a dog before, went most of his life without canine companionship — until last year, when he adopted “Cognac” and realized what all the hype was about.

Cognac is a medium-sized, black-and-brown dog who has become Johnson’s faithful friend and shadow. But recently, when Johnson was tending to his property, Cognac somehow got out and disappeared.

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Johnson tried calling for his pup, but there was no response. Cognac was well and truly gone, and Johnson feared his beloved dog would meet his end with a car.

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The next day, Johnson came across a horrible sight: A medium-sized, black-and-brown dog that looked just like Cognac, dead on the side of the road. It looked so similar that Johnson believed it to be his dog.

Heartbroken, he took it to the SPCA to have it cremated.

“I was a wreck,” he admitted to KXTV. “Tears started flowing. I couldn’t stop the tears from flowing.”

“It’s my first dog. I had never experienced it. To me it was just a concept. I know what it’s like to lose someone like that. I thought I lost him.”

As he went through the grieving process, he got a completely unexpected call from the Front Street Animal Shelter informing him that they had his dog and he could come pick it up.

“I said, ‘He’s alive? What do you mean he’s alive?'” Johnson said.

Sure enough, the poor dog Johnson had found deceased was a look-alike — but it wasn’t Cognac. Cognac was at the shelter, very much alive, energetic and ecstatic to see his owner again.

Johnson was up early the next day and at the shelter before it was technically even open, anxious to be reunited with the dog he’d thought was gone forever.

“He’s pulling the guy across the room, he jumps up in my arms and I’m hugging him, and I thought the whole place was going to erupt into applause,” he said during an interview with KXTV.

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“It was a great feeling.”

Johnson knows the reason his pup is back in his life is thanks to the microchip Cognac sports. Many shelters offer microchipping, and it’s invaluable insurance in cases like this.

Front Street Animal Shelter shared Johnson and Cognac’s story, using it to highlight the importance of microchips and advertising their offer of $5 for the service.

“Microchip is the reason we were reunited,” Johnson said. “I’ve had Cognac for eight months. I had him chipped when I received him. That was his saving grace that’s how I got him back.”

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