Courtesy of Stephanie Moore
Anyone who's lost a dog knows there's absolutely nothing sweeter than the moment you're reunited with your beloved pooch. And because this Baytown, Texas, family had to wait a whole four years before they could experience that moment with their beloved German shepherd, Sheba, the reunion was that much sweeter.
"It's like she never left," Stephanie Moore Malmstrom, Sheba's owner, tells Daily Paws. "We're so blessed to have her back."
Sheba went missing in January 2018 when her family was over at a neighbor's house. When the family came back and found she wasn't still napping underneath the patio—or responding when her name was called—they knew something was wrong.
After searching all night and day and posting flyers, the family remembered to check their security footage and made a heartbreaking discovery—Sheba wasn't just lost, she was stolen. The family alerted the microchip company and kept searching, but as the years continued to pass, it got harder and harder to stay hopeful their stolen dog would find her way home.
Fast forward to this August, and Moore Malmstrom was surprised to see two text messages and missed calls saying Sheba had been found. Initially, she thought it was a scam—someone trying to take advantage of the love for her missing pet. But when she called the phone number, animal control officer Jerry Harper informed her that he had, in fact, found her stolen dog—600 miles away in a town called Borger.
Still, Moore Malmstrom was skeptical—excited but nervous about potentially having her heart broken all over again. She asked to see pictures of her face, her paws, anything that could confirm it was her Sheba. But it wasn't until Moore Malmstrom and her husband FaceTimed Harper the next day and remembered they'd gotten Sheba an identification tattoo that they were positive it was her.
"After that I was like, 'This is her! Y'all have my dog—y'all have my baby!' I was ready to get in the car and go." she says.
Unfortunately, Sheba was a 12-hour drive away (24 hours roundtrip!), so the family had to be patient and wait a week for a volunteer organization to fly her back home.
"That was the longest seven days of my life," Moore Malmstrom says.
But despite the years-long wait, and Moore Malmstrom's fear that Sheba might not remember her, Sheba knew her family the moment she stepped off the plane and caught their scent.
"She was pulling at the leash and couldn't get to us fast enough," Moore Malmstrom says. "And for us—it was just emotional. Excitement is an understatement. There was a missing piece of our family for four and a half years, and now we're whole again."
Though the family has added some new members since Sheba went missing—a rescue pit bull named Poppy and a little boy named Mason—Sheba hasn't missed a beat. Though she's moving a little slower these days, she's still happy to love on her family, play in the yard, and share cheese sticks with her new favorite little boy, Mason.
"Sheba is amazing—a once in a lifetime dog," Moore Malmstrom says. "We're so blessed to have her back. If anybody takes anything away from our story, it's microchip your animals and don't lose hope if they're lost or stolen because there are happy endings."