Michael Joy never imagined he’d see his beloved dog Sam again when he went missing in the summer from Fort Benning, Ga. Yet nearly five years later, a recent phone call from more than 800 miles away in Cleveland would make that dream come true.
Michael Joy, a retired Army medic who now lives in Clarksville, Tenn., never completely got over the loss of Sam, a 6-year-old Labrador Retriever and Siberian Husky mix. He had two other dogs and when the second one died in December, he felt much more of a loss of Sam.
“My other dog died and they were incredibly close,” Joy added. “It was the last thing that linked me to him.”
So two weeks later, he and his wife welcomed a new dog to the family and called him Sam.
Yet even with the new four-legged family member, the loss of Sam was still present. A few weeks ago Joy was reminiscing, showing his wife and kids images of his original Sam as a puppy. Then two days later, a call from Cleveland altered everything.
“When I originally got the phone call I was like ‘I don’t know what you’re talking about. I’ve never gone to Ohio. Are you sure he’s my dog? Can you describe him?’ And she said he had light brown hair and I was like ‘Wait a second. You can’t be talking about the same Sam,’” Joy stated.
On April 2, more than 800 miles away from the Army post where Sam went missing, Cleveland Division of Police located Sam as a stray and took him to Cleveland’s Animal Care & Control, City Dogs Cleveland. Workers did a medical check, vaccinated him, scanned him for a microchip and, upon discovering who the owner is, called Joy.
When City Dogs Cleveland offered to extend the customary hold time to one week so the Joy family could make the 8-hour trek, it wasn’t required. The next morning they were in the car going north.
“The second I saw him it was a wave of emotion,” Joy added. “My wife and daughter were weeping. Personally, I don’t exhibit emotion too well. I was a medic for 20 years and I saw a lot of stuff. Yet seeing him I almost teared up. I was really pleased to see him.”
While Sam didn’t identify Joy straight away, it didn’t take long. “Once he began smelling me and hearing my voice he was attached to my hip and he’s still attached to my hip right now,” Joy added.
“One of the finest parts of our job at Cleveland Animal Care & Control is reuniting missing dogs with loving owners who have been seeking for them,” kennel manager Michelle Harvanek stated in a press statement. “We take a lot of satisfaction in our efforts to track microchips straight away and making multiple attempts to contact owners. We also lay a major focus on microchipping dogs. Every dog that leaves our care through adoption or return to owner gets microchipped if they weren’t previously.
“This is one of those incredibly feel-good tales that make all of our hard work worth it.”
It took Sam about a day to adjust to being home with Joy again but he’s back to being the lovable, peaceful and mild-mannered dog he was five years ago.