Sage Mountainfire, intake coordinator at Ukiah's Animal Shelter for Mendicino County Animal Care & Control in California, was working at the shelter on a Saturday in February when a women entered the shelter with a pitbull.
The pitbull had scars on her head and a limp. The woman told the shelter volunteers she had rescued the dog from an abusive situation. She herself was in a similar circumstance and was no longer able to take care of the dog.
Once in the shelter, the dog was scanned for a microchip. The pitbull had one and it was traced back to Haven of the Ozarks Animal Sanctuary, 2500 miles away in Missouri. They called the sanctuary and left a message and the next day they received a call back that the dog, whose name is Nova, was adopted in 2005. They were going to investigate further as they suspected he adopter may have died.
A few days later, Ukiah's shelter received a call from Nova's guardian, Debra. She told them that Nova had been adopted as a companion for her, by her late husband. He died exactly three years ago, to the day. She was overjoyed to hear that the shelter had her long-lost dog.
Sage Mountainfire recounted: "She told us that while dealing with her husband's death, she had gotten several folks to watch her home. When she returned home, many of her possessions were gone. But most heartbreaking was Nova's disappearance. For the past three years, Debra has been grieving for her husband, and also the loss of her beloved dog. 'It is a miracle!' was all she could say, and we agreed completely."
After they determined Debra's home was now in Rogers, Arkansas, the question was how could they reunite the two? Thankfully, the dog-loving community stepped forward to help. One of the shelter's volunteers posted Nova's story on Craigslist, and 23-year-old Mike responded. Mike lives in California, but his family home is in Arkansas. Mike agreed to drive Nova to Arkansas to reunite the dog with Debra.
Other community members helped by making donations for Nova's trip home. Nova suffers from incontinence and needed diapers while traveling, but Mike was unperturbed. Nova was taken to Mike's house prior to their trip so the two travel companions could get acquainted.
On March 15, Mike and Nova set off on their 2500-mile road trip. Mike's usual trip home was a straight drive through with naps in the car, but because of Nova, he booked into a dog-friendly motel along the way, and just two days later he was outside of Debra's home. While the two chatted, Nova settled right in on the couch.
When Debra called Sage a week later to update her as to Nova's progress, she said she was absolutely sure Nova recognized her as soon as they saw each other. Debra told Sage "Nova was curled up at her feet, snoozing, as she spoke. 'It is just amazing!'.