Incredible Journey Brings Dog Back Home
A good dog is like an old friend: no matter how long it's been, it's always "just like old times."
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On this day, Meggie the Shetland Sheepdog relaxes comfortably at home, in the arms of her owner Connie Gates.
"You're a beautiful girl, aren't you?" Gates coos like a loving mother. "Yes you are!"
It's that special connection dog owners have with their pets. Like an old friendship, it doesn't matter if it's been hours or days; the link is always unbreakable.
"I just love her," says Gates as she pets Meggie. "These are like our kids, aren't they?"
Imagine then, if you were separated from your own kids for days, or even weeks.
Try nine months.
"We were away in London," recalls Gates, stretching her memory all the way back to July 2012. "We don't do it very often, but when we go away we always have a friend come and live in our house, to take care of our dogs."
This time, Meggie and Gates' other Sheltie dog Jessie had the luxury of a dogsitter, and a dog-walker, too.
"But Meggie just decided that she didn't want to go on a walk with (our dog-walker)," says Gates. "So she was in the driveway, in this woman's car...and she jumped out of the car and ran away. Just ran away."
It was a surprise -- Meggie regularly runs free and without a leash, throughout the neighborhood. Gates had never had a problem with her before.
But now, returning from vacation and with no sign of the dog anywhere, Gates began to grow worried.
"Every day was just worry, worry, worry," Gates squeaks out in a cracking voice, "if she's okay."
Neighbors jumped in to help with posters and Facebook information chains. Spotty sightings of what might have been Meggie started to trickle in, from as far away as Webster -- eight miles from home.
Then, technology took over. Several Penfield residents installed motion-sensor cameras in their yards.
"By the way we were seeing her movement on the cameras," says Jenny Lloyd, who lives with Gates, "we could tell she mostly out-and-about during the nighttime."
As winter's icy grip set-in, Meggie seemed to roam closer to home. Still, she couldn't be captured.
"I'd go out and night and wonder, 'Oh Meggie, how can you stand this?'" recalls Gates. "It would be so, so cold."
It was only a matter of time before technology took another leap, to end a nine-month search early Friday morning.
"A friend of ours who is an electrical engineer, came up with a device that would shut with the push of a button," says Gates.
"She walks up the steps, and into the back..." says Lloyd, watching intently on a computer screen showing hidden-camera video, "...and down comes the gate!"
Meggie was humanely trapped on a small porch in Penfield Gardens. Lured by food...she's now back in the comfort of her home with Connie and Jenny.
"It's still almost unbelievable," says Lloyd.
"It's such a wonderful relief," smiles Gates.