Lifestyle & Human Interest

Students Find Dog That Had Been Missing for Five Years: 'Once-In-A-Lifetime' Story


Shortly after Abbie Bayless, a student at Union University in Jackson, Tennessee, got set up with her roommate, a stray dog walked into their house and their lives.

“I had just moved in with my roommate — literally days before — when Azzurra showed up at our front door,” Bayless told the Jackson Sun. “We opened the front door and she just walked right in like she lived there!”

The women held onto her for a few weeks before contacting Henderson Animal Control.

Once the dog was taken to animal control, staff discovered she had a microchip, but it led to an owner many states away in New York.

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“WOW, WHAT A DAY!” the Friends of City of Henderson Animal Control Facebook page shared on Jan. 10. “If you have ever questioned the importance of microchipping your pets, PLEASE realize what a benefit it is for you and your pet!

“An incredible story unfolded today. We discovered today at Chester Co Animal that [a dog] that we’d been calling Queen Cleo(patra) had a microchip and because of that microchip her Mom was located….all the way in New York. She came up missing 5 years ago and NO IDEA how or when she wound up in Henderson.”

The dog, whose original name was Azzurra Diamante, had gone missing from Long Beach, New York, in 2017.

While no one could say for sure where she had been in that time, it was pretty clear from her body condition that she’d been overbred — probably making someone a lot of money.

Jen Costa, Azzurra’s owner, was shocked to hear that her dog was alive, well and waiting for her in Henderson, Tennessee. She made the 1,000-mile drive down, reuniting with Azzurra and introducing her to her brother, Pancake.

“It was amazing,” Costa told WNBC-TV. “I mean, I … just can’t believe I’m here … that she’s really here.”

Costa, who lost her tongue while battling and beating cancer, was incredibly glad to have her old friend back in her life.

“I feel like I’ve been through a lot,” she said. “I suffered a lot of losses. You know, I lost my other dog in August to cancer.”

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Costa and Azzurra’s story has impressed many and served as an excellent reminder of the importance of getting pets microchipped.

“It’s crazy, now knowing everything she’s been through, and how well traveled she is,” Bayless said. “Because she was so gentle and mild mannered, and just the sweetest girl ever. And we could definitely tell that somebody was missing her — we just didn’t realize that that somebody was in New York!”

“It was like, holy cow!” shelter spokeswoman Jan Morris added. “How on Earth did this dog get over 1,000 miles away? You just want them to be able to talk and tell you what happened.

“This is kind of one of those once-in-a-lifetime stories.”

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