Anyone who has had their pet go missing knows the heart-wrenching fear and sadness that is mixed with the small hope that their pet will reappear someday. In these 10 stories, the owners got their wishes. They were able to reunite with their lost pets several years after the animals went missing.
10 Nigel The Parrot
A British man named Darren Chick was living in California with his parrot, Nigel. The bird was learning to talk and even adopted Darren’s British accent when it spoke. In 2010, Nigel managed to fly away, and Darren never found him.
Four years later, someone else found Nigel and brought him to a veterinarian. They scanned his microchip and returned him to Darren, but the parrot no longer spoke with a British accent. Somehow, in his four years away, Nigel had learned to speak Spanish.
It turns out that Nigel had been living with the Smith family during all that time. They had purchased him for $ 400 at a yard sale shortly after he went missing from Darren’s home.
Ruben Hernandez, the 86-year-old grandfather of the Smith family, had formed a special bond with Nigel and renamed the bird Morgan. Ruben had lost his wife, so he dealt with the loneliness by speaking with Morgan instead.
When the parrot flew away from the Smiths’ home, Nigel’s miraculous return to Darren after four years was all over the news. Liza Smith, Ruben’s granddaughter, contacted Darren to explain where the bird had been all that time. Touched by the story, Darren brought Nigel, now officially renamed Morgan, back to the Smith family.
9 Woosie The Cat
Helen and Phillip Johns from Cornwall, England, were devastated when they could not find their seven-year-old cat, Woosie, in 2011. After enough time went by, they decided it was best to accept that he was never coming back.
Unknown to the Johns family, little Woosie had wandered a full 50 kilometers (30 mi) away, stopping at the Ginsters pasty factory. Workers thought that Woosie was simply adorable and decided to adopt him as a sort of mascot. They renamed him George and spoiled him with bits of sausage and assorted meats that are normally stuffed inside the miniature pie’s crust.
Three years later, after living in what seems to be a cat’s version of Heaven, the workers of Ginsters finally decided that it was time for George to visit the veterinarian. They had assumed that he was a stray. But when the doctor scanned the cat for a microchip, the doctor discovered Woosie’s true identity and contacted Phillip and Helen. They happily reunited with their now-chubby cat.
8 Corky The Dog
In 2009, one-year-old Corky, a scruffy little terrier mix, escaped from his kennel in the backyard of his home in Texas. He had been a gift for the young children of the Montez family.
Nearly seven years later in 2016, someone reported seeing two little stray dogs wandering together by the side of a road. Animal control workers picked up the dogs and scanned them for microchips. They were able to contact the Montez family, who reunited with Corky after all those years.
During his time away, Corky had become best friends with a younger, one-eyed dog, which was named Captain by the Montez family. From the dogs’ behavior, it was clear that Corky had looked after Captain like he was a little brother. Corky makes sure that Captain always eats first and protects him by standing guard.
The two dogs most likely survived in the wild by helping one another. With his missing eye, Captain might not have survived without Corky’s help. The Montezes refused to separate these two best friends and welcomed Captain as a new addition to the family.
7 Charlie The Cat
In Hampshire, England, in 2006, Jo and Ade Haigh began to worry when their indoor-outdoor cat, Charlie, did not return home for dinner. They posted signs and searched for the cat all over town for several months. After giving up on ever finding Charlie again, the couple moved to a different town a few miles away.
In 2012, six years after Charlie’s disappearance, life was very different for Mr. and Mrs. Haigh. They were the new parents of twins. Jo’s mother was looking to buy a new house, so Jo took her mother to look at real estate in the old neighborhood where Charlie had gone missing.
Sure enough, Jo spotted a cat that looked exactly like Charlie walking down the street where Jo used to live. She scooped up the cat in her arms and knocked on the door of the nearest house. The man confirmed that the cat was a stray that he occasionally fed, but no one knew to whom the cat belonged.
After taking the cat to the vet, Charlie was scanned for his microchip and his identity was confirmed. It turns out that Charlie had intended to return home after all. He was just a few years late to dinner. Charlie is now strictly an indoor cat.
6 Manuela The Tortoise
In 1982 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, the Almeida family could not find their pet tortoise, Manuela. While the house was being renovated, construction workers had left the front door wide open for long periods of time as they carried materials inside the house. Manuela’s owners decided that this must have been how she escaped.
Over 30 years later in 2013, the Almeida children were all grown up. The father, Leonel, had passed away. The children were cleaning out his house and opened a storeroom that their dad normally kept locked.
It was filled with his collection of record players, radios, televisions, and other electronics that he would find on the side of the road and claim that he would fix one day. Leonel contained his hoarding habit to this one storage room, only opening the door long enough to add more junk to the piles.
When the children brought the piles of trash out to the front of the house, they discovered that Manuela, the tortoise, was inside one of the cardboard boxes. They immediately brought her to the vet.
He confirmed that the red-footed tortoise can survive for two to three years without eating. The flooring in the house was infested with termites, so they theorize that Manuela had survived by eating the bugs whenever she got the chance.
5 Fuzzy The Cat
In 2010, Michelle Wright of Barrington, New Hampshire, had asked a friend to pet-sit her young cat, Fuzzy. When they began searching for the cat, one of the neighbors told Michelle that a black-and-white cat had been run over and killed nearby. Convinced that the cat must have been Fuzzy, Michelle gave up on the search.
Four years later, Michelle had moved on and gotten new pets. While she was shopping at a local pet store less than 1.6 kilometers (1 mi) from her home, she browsed the section of cats they had for sale. She was shocked to see a cat that was the spitting image of Fuzzy.
As Michelle stared at the cat, she recognized more similarities to Fuzzy. After asking the pet store owner where the cat had come from, he explained that the cat had been picked up on the side of the road. The veterinarian had estimated that the cat was about four years old—the same age that Fuzzy would have been.
Michelle brought in photographs of Fuzzy, including one that showed a unique birthmark on the pad of his paw. After paying the $ 85 adoption fee, which included all of Fuzzy’s shots and the implantation of a microchip, Michelle was able to bring him home at last.
4 Opie The Horse
In 2002 in San Antonio, Texas, a woman named Michelle Pool was admitted to the hospital to have surgery on her back. Rather than pay the expensive boarding fees for her horse, Opie, she asked her father to watch over her pet while she was recovering.
Her father did not have a stable, so Opie stayed enclosed by a wire fence in his pasture. Someone clipped the metal fence in the middle of the night, led Opie to a horse trailer, and drove away with the stolen horse.
Opie is a Saddlebred Pinto, which is a breed worth anywhere from $ 1,200 to as much as $ 15,000. Michelle submitted the case to an organization called Stolen Horse International. Ten long years later, she received a phone call that they had found Opie.
He was allegedly found by a pastor in Dayton, Texas, over 320 kilometers (200 mi) away from where Opie had been captured. According to the pastor’s story, he had seen the horse wandering on the side of the road and just happened to have an empty horse trailer available to bring her home.
Rather than contact the authorities, the pastor tried to sell the horse on Craigslist. A woman was shopping for a horse for her daughter and realized that the horse’s image had popped up on a list of stolen horses. The markings on Opie’s body were so unique that it was clearly the same horse.
The woman reported her suspicions to the authorities. The Dayton sheriff’s department hired a group of contract cowboys to raid the house of the pastor, and they recovered Opie around 2:00 AM the next day. There was not enough evidence to convict the pastor of theft, but Michelle was reunited with her long-lost pet.
3 Suika The Cat
On March 11, 2011, a tsunami hit the Iwate Prefecture in Japan. A black cat named Suika was swept up in the waves and carried away from her home. Owners Takeo and Kazuko Yamagishi had already evacuated to high ground to survive the tsunami. They did not have time to find their indoor-outdoor cat.
When they returned home, Suika was nowhere to be found. The couple searched for her for three months while their town was recovering from the tsunami. They eventually gave up hope of ever finding her.
Three years later, a couple was hiking in a forest not too far from the Yamagishis’ home. The hikers noticed a black cat curled up in the high branches of a tree. After rescuing the cat, they noticed that her collar had a charm with the name and phone number of the owners. After the Yamagishis received a phone call, they were reunited with little Suika.
We will never know what really happened. But with little else to save her from the rushing tides, there is a good chance that these tall trees probably saved the cat’s life during the tsunami. She most likely returned to them because it was where she felt safe.
2 Reckless The Dog
In 2012, the devastating Hurricane Sandy destroyed many parts of the East Coast of the United States. Chuck and Elicia James lived in New Jersey during the storm. The fence in their backyard had become damaged. Their terrier-pitbull mix named Reckless was able to escape.
Chuck and Elicia were heartbroken. They searched for Reckless for several months and finally accepted that he must have died in the storm. After a year and a half, the couple was finally ready to move on and adopt a new dog. They visited a local animal shelter . . . only to see that Reckless was there, waiting for them all this time.
The shelter had renamed him Lucas. According to Chuck, Reckless “jumped three feet in the air” when he saw the couple. Reckless had a telltale scar on the top of his head, which was enough for them to confirm that this was the same dog.
1 Willow The Cat
In Boulder, Colorado, a calico cat named Willow escaped from her home in 2006 when contractors left the door open during renovations. For five years, Jamie and Chris Squires assumed that Willow must have been eaten by a coyote or any of the other predators in the Rocky Mountains.
One can only imagine their surprise when they received a phone call that Willow had been found—in New York City. Over 1,600 kilometers (1,000 mi) away from her home, the calico cat was found walking the streets of Manhattan. Soon after, a veterinarian scanned her microchip.
The Today Show offered to pay for the Squires family’s flight to New York in exchange for an exclusive on the story. Willow became an overnight cat celebrity. No one knows exactly how Willow managed to find herself in The Big Apple, and her journey remains a mystery.
Michael Bloomberg, the then-mayor of New York City, was quoted saying, “Cats reputedly have nine lives, and he clearly wanted to spend at least one of them in New York City.”