More than a year after losing their beloved pet during Sandy, a New Jersey family made an amazing discovery during a visit to animal shelter this week: their missing dog.
Reckless, a 3-year-old brown and white terrier-pit bull mix, escaped from the James family home in Keansburg during Sandy. The family said the fence in the yard got mangled in the storm, and Reckless ran off. His collar got caught on the fence, so he had no identification when he fled.
The family spent months desperately searching for him.
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"It was like losing a family member," said Chuck James. "My kids were upset, my wife was upset, I was upset."
Although they never gave up hope, James and his wife knew it was time to move on. They went last week to the Monmouth County SPCA to get their daughter Ally a new dog for her 10th birthday, and ended up with a gift beyond their wildest dreams.
"Sitting in the first stall in front of the doors, I looked over and I thought it looked a lot like Reckless," said James.
His wife started tearing up and said: "Look at the scar on his head! It is Reckless!"
Ally, one of the three James children, said, "It's like that hole in my heart is finally filled. Yeah, I missed him."
Reckless was picked up as a stray just blocks from the family's house and was microchipped and cared for by the shelter for six months, according to James and SPCA officials.
James believes the dog was trying to find his way home.
"He's ours. I don't think he is letting us out of his sight."
The family was taking the weekend to enjoy their first family camping trip with Reckless in more than 18 months.
"This is our first family vacation in a really long time, and we get the whole family on vacation," said James.
The family is living in a hotel while their storm-damaged Keansburg rental is repaired. Reckless will be accommodated at the hotel.