Southern California

Dog Missing for Four Years is Back Home for the Holidays

Jairo Morales was out for a walk with his dog when he noticed the lonely and dirty dog in the street

Jairo Morales just couldn't say no to that face, especially on Christmas Eve.

Morales was taking his own dog for a walk Monday when he noticed a small dog limping in the street. He noticed the dog was a Shih Tzu -- just like his dog, Princess. 

"She had mud all over her face -- she was dirty," said Morales. "She came running immediately and limping.

"When I saw her, I saw my own dog's face. I didn't have the heart to leave her there, just on the street." 

Morales' compassion for the lonely little dog set in motion a chain of events that brightened the holidays for a Valencia, California, family.

He scooped her up, took her home and, with animal services closed for the holiday, spent Christmas Day with the dog and Princess. He even gave her a red collar.

The next day, Morales took the dog to Roxford Veterinary Clinic to see whether she had a microchip -- a chip about the size of a grain of rice that's injected between a dog's shoulder blades. Each chip has a code that's entered in a national database, allowing animal organizations and vet clinics with scanners to locate owners.

"I grabbed the (chip) scanner, and as soon as I lifted that scanner close to the dog's body it went off," said Tania Hernandez, a vet assistant at the clinic.

They had just solved the mystery of Shawnee -- a dog who vanished from the Culberhouse family's home about four years earlier. The family was in Arizona when they learned their dog had been found, but they turned around, stopping at their hotel to collect their belongings before heading home. 

"The moment they answered the phone, I said I was calling about my dog that was found," said Joyce Culberhouse. "They knew her name, and they knew my name. We knew they had actually found her microchip and they had her."

Another clinic employee kept Shawnee until at her home, texting photos to the family during their drive back to Southern California. The happy reunion was captured on video.

"She is a Christmas miracle, and so is Jairo for bringing her to us," said Hernandez.

The Culberhouses said they aren't sure where Shawnee was for the past four years, but added that they didn't give up hope. 

"I just had to keep the faith that she was alive, she was out there, and she was waiting for me to find her," said Culberhouse.

Morales said he was pleased to help provide the family with a beloved gift. 

"It was just nice know that after so many years, they were finally able to have their connection again," said Morales.

Click here to learn more about microchipping services.

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