Hoosier family reunited with dog missing for 5 years

Cali had been missing from his Columbus, Indiana, home for about five years. (WISH Photo)

COLUMBUS, Ind. (WISH) — A Hoosier family reunited with a pet lost for years is counting its blessings this holiday season.

After its pet chocolate Labrador retriever went missing five years ago, the Finkes’ prayers were answered on Monday.

“When you lose a pet like that, they’re part of your family,” said Jan Finke, who lives in Columbus

“Sweet, lovable” are words Finke used to describe his lab, Cali.

Cali escaped the Invisible Fence and never came home.

“I drove around and around and around and looked all over for her,” he said.

Time passed and hope faded.

“I guess the worst thing is you don’t know what happened.”

“I probably prayed once a week that he’d bring her back,” he said.

Three weeks ago, Linda Jackson opened her door to a chocolate Lab brought in by a good Samaritan, who found her on the side of the highway.

“Cali had two severe ear infections and she had hematoma to her ear flaps,” she said about the dog.

Jackson runs a shelter out of her home in Brownstown, about 30 miles from Columbus.

She posted pictures of the Lab, but no owner stepped forward. This week, Jackson asked her vet to check for a microchip — a way to find the dog’s true home — and it led to a phone call.

“It about knocked me off my chair,” Finke said.

An early Christmas present for the family: Cali.

“I cried for a while realizing that they finally found her after all these years,” he said.

It was a reunion no one expected to happen

“He said I could never accept the fact that she was actually gone. And I said because she wasn’t,” Jackson said.

“I think she knew who I was but, being gone five years, we don’t know how many names she had been called,” Finke said.

But what happened to Cali, where she’s been and with whom, we’ll never know.

“It’s the best thing that as a rescuer that I think I have ever done,” Jackson said.

Some people say it’s the journey, not the destination, that’s most important in life. But, that’s not the case for this family.

“I think she knows. She’s back home now,” Finke said.

The American Humane Society estimates about 10 million dogs and cats are lost or stolen every year. That microchip is the only reason Cali is back home.

If you are rescuing a dog, the shelter tends to include the charge of getting a microchip, but, even so, we’re told it doesn’t cost much.

And you can’t put a price on this Christmas gift for the Finkes.