The Cruz family of Hillsborough, N.J., got the call on Tuesday, something they had been waiting for 17 months — that their beloved dog Wesley had been found.
Because the date on the calendar read April 1st, April Fools’ Day, the dog’s owner, Miguel Cruz, thought it was a prank. The tears in the eyes of his wife, who received the call while the family was eating dinner, told him otherwise.
“We were jumping up with joy,” Cruz told GoodMorningAmerica.com of the reaction of him, his wife, Myra, and their son, Sebastian.
Sebastian, 12, received Wesley as a birthday present four years ago when the labrador was just eight weeks old.
In November 2012, Wesley disappeared from the family’s backyard as Cruz was cleaning the back patio.
“I was pretty busy and he usually just putzes around in the yard outside,” Cruz said. “After I was done cleaning, he disappeared.”
“I called out and called out, but nothing,” he added. “I got in my car and drove the whole radius, about five miles, and we couldn’t find him.”
The Cruz family continued to search for Wesley — knocking on doors and hanging up flyers — for two more weeks, a time period during which Hurricane Sandy struck the East Coast.
They kept faith that someone would find Wesley and return him thanks to the microchip they had implanted in him years ago.
That day came Tuesday when police officers in an area nearly 30 miles from the Cruz’s home responded to reports of a stray dog. The officers took the dog to a nearby boarding facility, whose director had the good idea to scan Wesley to check for a microchip.
The Cruz family was reunited with Wesley on Tuesday night in the lobby of the West Windsor Police Headquarters.
“When we first saw him, he was excited but he’s always happy to see everyone,” Cruz said. “The next morning at home, when we came downstairs, he was just ecstatic to see us.”
“He sleeps in his regular spots and you can tell he recognizes the smells,” Cruz said of how Wesley has adapted. “He’s happy to be home because he’s back to how he was before he was lost.”
Cruz said Windsor gained about 20 pounds during his time away from home and suffered minor injuries to his rear legs and damage to his tail.
It remains a mystery where Wesley spent the past 17 months, but his family is just happy he is now home.
“We waited and we waited and we never gave hope,” said Cruz.