By Ray Reyes
September 29, 2011
|Cooper, seen with a vet assistant at Care Animal Hospital, will go home Monday.|
Last week, the Chihuahua-whippet mix was found shivering in the pouring rain on the side of a road.
After two years and 3,000 miles, the dog and its owners will be reunited on Monday.
Cooper’s coast-to-coast journey seems like something out of a Hollywood movie, owner Michelle Baetge said.
“It still seems sort of surreal,” said Baetge, 41, from her home in Sacramento, Calif. “Everyone involved has been stunned and amazed.”
Baetge and the veterinarians of Care Animal Hospital in Brandon said they have no idea how Cooper traveled cross-country. What’s apparent is that since he’s been missing, someone had been taking care of him.
“His nails were trimmed. He’s fat and happy,” said Cheri Kane, the owner of the animal hospital.
Kane said it’s anybody’s guess what happened to Cooper after Baetge’s gardener left the gate open and the tan-colored dog made a break for the outside world. Someone must have found Cooper, treated the pet like his or her own and relocated to Florida, she said.
Two good Samaritans found Cooper on Sept.22 during a thunderstorm, Kane said.
“He was sitting there, shaking, on the corner,” she said.
Vets found out Cooper had a microchip for tracking and alerted the company, HomeAgain, that they had recovered the dog. A company representative then called Baetge and told her the news.
The situation was so extraordinary that the microchip company is paying the expenses to fly Cooper back to California, spokeswoman Amy Eury said. Cooper will be back with the Baetges by 9:41p.m. on Monday.
Baetge said her 16-year-old son Cody has an attachment to Cooper. Baetge’s father bought the dog for his grandson after he contracted a terminal illness.
“He told Cody that he didn’t have much to leave him but would buy him anything he wanted to remember him by,” Baetge said. “So that day we bought Cooper.”
Baetge said they contacted local shelters, put up fliers and posted messages on social media sites to find their dog. Still, they were amazed when the family got the call from the microchip company.
“Cody was in stunned silence for awhile,” Baetge said. “He’s now getting more and more excited. We never lost hope. We just thought we would never see him again.”
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