An overjoyed military couple celebrated a sweet reunion this week when they welcomed their long-lost Australian shepherd, Jodie, back home.
Gregory and Victoria Hudler, who both actively serve in the military, adopted Jodie when the dog was just a puppy as an emotional support animal. However, as they prepared for the birth of their first child, the couple felt that it would be helpful to have a relative watch Jodie (who is a male, despite some posts referring to him as a female) for the first few weeks while they adjusted to the chaos of parenthood.
However, they never expected their innocent decision would turn out to be heartbreaking. When it was time to bring Jodie home, the relative stopped answering calls and texts, avoiding the Hudlers’ questions.
“After a couple weeks, contact kind of just cut off and questions started getting asked,” Gregory Hudler told News 12 New Jersey.
Even worse, a few weeks later another relative told the couple that the woman had sold their dog. Shocked and devastated, the couple felt torn about how to proceed.
“At that point, with it being a family member, it was a little bit difficult,” Gregory Hudler said. “We decided on not contacting the authorities and causing a giant mess with the family.”
The family went on with their lives, hoping that a good Samaritan might find their puppy and bring him home. But after enough time passed, their hopes began to fade.
However, nearly two years later, long after the couple had stopped dreaming of finding Jodie, they were stunned to receive a phone call that their dog had been found! A stray had turned up in a shelter all the way in Tennessee, thousands of miles from the couple’s home in New Jersey. When the shelter checked for a microchip, sure enough — it led them to the Hudlers!
“When I found out Jodie had been found I was speechless,” Victoria told The Western Journal. “I couldn’t believe it!”
“I thought he was long gone because I figured if good people had him they would’ve taken him to the vet and the vet would check his microchip at one point or another and he’d turn up. I cried on the phone when they confirmed the chip number and that it was in fact my dog,” she added.
“Anyone with pets should microchip their pets!”
The Hudlers and Jodie had an emotional reunion at the airport, thanks to Wings of Rescue, an animal rescue that flies at-risk pets to safe locations. Their team came together to reunite Jodie with his family.
“It was the right thing to do,” Ric Browde, president of Wings of Rescue, said. “It cost us several thousands of dollars extra, but it was worth every penny of it.”
“I thought he was gone,” Victoria Hudler told News 12 New Jersey, breaking down in tears. “And I’m so happy.”
“I had no idea a group of strangers could just gather like that and support somebody,” Victoria told Daily Record. “They really went out of our way, along with our local police and animal control officer.”
“I am forever thankful and grateful,” she added. “Like my husband said, it really restored our faith in humanity. There are amazing people out there. I had no idea these types of people existed, to be honest.”
Hudler told The Western Journal that it feels “amazing” finally having Jodie back at home where he belongs.
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