A three-year-old girl is holding her dog Maverick tight after he was returned to her family by the people who adopted him, thanks to $1,000 from a Winnipeg veterinarian.
Maverick, a two-year-old German shepherd-Rottweiler cross, went missing from his home in Lundar, Man., on March 24.
He turned up in Winnipeg on April 10 and was adopted out by Animal Services a day before his owner, Lela Harris, learned he was there and went to retrieve him.
On Wednesday, at a meeting arranged by the city's Animal Services at the Lundar Golf Course, Harris and her dog shared an emotional surprise reunion.
"Mavi! Oh my God, Mav!" shrieked Harris as Leland Gordon, chief operating officer with the city's animal services, opened the doors to his van.
The dog jumped out and put his head on her shoulder.
"Oh oh, my baby I missed you, I missed you," she sobbed repeatedly, clutching his neck while the dog wagged his tail.
Harris had been under the impression that her meeting with Gordon was to sign paperwork that might help her get the dog back.
After hearing her story on Tuesday, Dr. David Scammell, a veterinarian at Winnipeg Animal Emergency Hospital, wanted to help the family get their dog back. He offered $1,000 to the new owners, via the animal services officer who had been in touch with them.
The new owners accepted.
"Early this morning we did a pseudo covert operation and during that pseudo covert operation we actually recovered the dog," said Gordon.
He said he handed the envelope with the money over to the adoptive owner, who handed him Maverick.
Maverick was then microchipped and checked over by a vet with Animal Services. He was already neutered before he went missing.
"We're going to load up the dog, go on a short drive and hopefully bring a lot of joy and happiness not only to this owner and her family, but to people across Canada," said Gordon.
"We told her a white lie, and the white lie is we need to take an official statement, but I have to do it in person."
Maverick put his paws up on Harris's shoulders after their emotional reunion. It had been just over a month since he disappeared.
"I'm so happy, thank you, you're home, you're home. Let's go find that crazy Zen," said Harris.
Once at home on the farm, she said her three-year-old daughter, Zendaya, lit up when she saw the dog.
"My Mavi, you're home!" she said, before putting her arms around him for a hug.
She didn't leave his side as he toured the yard, sniffed everything and made a dash for a play structure.
"I'm so overwhelmed, I'm so happy, thank you so much to everyone who helped bring him home. I'm so grateful," she said.
Gordon said that if the dog had a chip or tattoo he probably would have been returned to the family very quickly. "It's not rocket science."
Identification is key to preventing situations like this one, which has been a highlight for his eight-year career with Animal Services.
"He's priceless. He's so priceless," said Harris.
"We're going to go home and we're going to live happily ever after because you have your family back, we have you back, we have you back," she said.