It is hard to be a pet owner sometimes.

It is hard to be a pet owner sometimes. It is a challenge to live up to the huge responsibility of caring adequately for another being. It can be sad and painful when our treasured pets reach the end of their lives. We never seem to be ready for that moment.

The alternative of never having a pet is worse. Pet owners would say that a life spent without companionship and love received from a pet is somehow less than it could be.

One of the most devastating times for a pet owner is when a pet is lost. It can happen even to the most diligent owners. You may think your pet is safe in the yard but there is the potential for digging, jumping out or slipping through an open gate. Sometimes, despite every precaution, unfortunate and unplanned events happen and your treasured pet is gone.

Stories abound about lost pets, their adventures and heartwarming reunions. These accounts touch us deeply and give those of us who have lost a pet the tiniest little bit of hope that our pet might return to us someday. Nothing can compare with the joy and feeling of relief when a missing pet returns, especially after a long time or from a great distance. Here is one of those remarkable and heartwarming reunion stories.

In Austin, Texas, TV station KXAM reported on a 15-year-old dog that was lost last October in the wild and reunited with his owner after 66 days missing. Mike Stotts and his dog, Romeo, were camping in a primitive park in Arizona when the dog disappeared from the tent overnight. The owner searched everywhere, criss-crossing every hiking trail in the park. He told his story to anyone who would listen, enlisted the help of park rangers and put flyers offering a reward everywhere.
Coyotes were a real problem in the park and rangers advised Mike that it was unlikely that a 15-year-old dog, who had diminished hearing, could survive that long without food or water among the coyotes and mid-August heat. Stotts reluctantly decided to give up the hunt after 3 ½ days and return home. Before leaving, he found two pine branches and fashioned a cross. He planted the cross between rocks and called it Romeo's grave.

"I didn't want to picture him torn apart by coyotes just laying out there," Stotts said, "I wanted to remember him up on the mountain, looking down at all of the scenery."

Stotts was still grieving over two months later, when he received a call from the company responsible for the micro-chip that had been implanted in Romeo when he was adopted 15 years previously as a 12-week-old stray.

Romeo was alive! A Santa Fe man spotted him emaciated and injured not far from the same park he had disappeared from 66 days earlier.
This man said, "This little dog caught my headlights, so I stopped. I like dogs. I have two of my own. This one looked like it needed my help."

A vet estimated that Romeo had lost about one-third of his body weight and had developed anemia. One of his ears had been ripped. There was an immediate and blissful reunion between Stotts and Romeo. We only wish that Romeo could tell the story of his nine-week adventure.

Once again, we learn of the importance of having good identification on our pets, especially if they are to travel with us everywhere. If you have ever doubted the importance of micro chipping and the need for a strong collar with identification tags, this story may give you a reason to think otherwise.

Anne Divine is a long time member of LAWS and has volunteered at Animal Control for 18 years. She can be reached at: