Sometimes true love trumps all, as was the case with John Russo and his beloved American bulldog Bones.
Given to Russo as a Christmas present in 2008 from his mother, Bones stayed with Russo’s ex-girlfriend when he joined the Army and left for basic training and a deployment to Afghanistan in 2009.
“We were broken up before I left, but she was taking care of her [Bones], so I thought,” Russo told ABC News. “Then I got home and realized she had surrendered her.”
Russo attempted to contact his ex, but found out her number and address had changed. Russo tried to find Bones, but didn't have any luck. As an animal lover, he often checks humane society websites just to see the animals there, and he had an unbelievable spotting last week.
“I had a feeling that day and I went on the website and there she was,” Russo said of Bones.
The 5-year-old bulldog had been safely sheltered and up for adoption at the Flagler Humane Society in Palm Coast, Florida.
Russo’s ex-girlfriend "actually went to a veterinarian to have her euthanized and the doctor wouldn't do it so he told her to surrender her here, so we took Bones in," Flagler Humane Society development coordinator Jeffrey Ritter told ABC News.
"She was really depressed when she got here. She actually lived in my office and not in the kennel and we took care of her and got her rehabilitated," Ritter said. "You could tell she had been really loved because she was one of the most well-behaved dogs. I've never heard her bark and she was completely housebroken and could sit and shake on command."
As soon as Russo spotted Bones on the website, he drove to the shelter, where customer service representative Katrina Geigley was working the desk.
“It was very heartwarming. When they brought her out to see him he just knelt to the floor and we were all just bawling our eyes out. We've never seen this dog be so ecstatic to see someone. She ran and gave him this huge bear hug and was whining and jumping all around. If my job has ever been worth it, it was in that moment,” Geigley told ABC News.
“Usually whenever you lead Bones somewhere she’s more than happy to just go along with you on the leash, but whenever we tried to take her away from him to do an exit exam, she just sat there and would not budge," Geigley said. "It was the most adorable thing I've ever seen a dog do. She was like, ‘This is my man. I am not leaving him.’ It was really amazing. I've never seen anything like it. We did an adoption and he took her home. He said he wasn't leaving without her.”
Russo has settled into life with Bones since, working to become a firefighter and coming home to Bones.
“I really don’t have words for [seeing her again]," Russo said.
"When she saw me she lost it and I knew right then and there she remembered me after four years of not seeing me. She jumped on me, licked my face and ran around in circles,” he said. “It’s been insane. I come home every day from work and she somehow manages to get in my laundry basket and steal my shirts and every time I come home it’s like the first time she saw me again.”