An injured airman has been reunited with his lost dog, thanks to a compassionate stranger.
After his tour of duty in Afghanistan, Senior Airman Wes Falconer adopted Hudson the hound from Sammie's Friends animal shelter in Grass Valley, California.
The Reno-based National Guardsman had been injured overseas. Doctors recommended that a companion dog would help him with his recovery. Upon hearing his story, staff at Sammie's Friends waived all adoption fees as thanks for the young veteran's service.
In April, Falconer traveled to Travis Air Force Base, east of the Bay Area in California, as part of his recovery strategy. While away, friends looked after Hudson in Reno.
But when a crew member left a gate open, Hudson wandered away.
For months, Hudson wandered the Nevada countryside. Despite Falconer's "missing" posters, plenty of eye witnesses spotting the dog and reporting his whereabouts, and a search by Washoe County Regional Animal Services, the dog seemed impossible to catch.
One of those eye witnesses was Kathie Mead, who spotted Hudson behind a fence along the Robb Drive exit when she was driving his grandson to school.
"The dog looked like it needed help but would not let me get anywhere near to him," Mead told Washoe County Sheriff's Office's Bob Harmon. "Still, I felt that I had to do something."
Mead began visiting the location several times a day, bringing food and water for the "extremely skittish" dog.
She called Washoe County Regional Animal Services. Assistant Tim Finnegan told Mead that luring the dog into a cage would be the best chance to humanely rescue the dog. Because of extreme temperatures, Mead volunteered to watch the cage and notify Animal Services if the hound was captured.
The dog arrived when Mead typically fed him, shortly before noon. He slowly approached the food-filled cage. He was finally in custody.
Finnegan easily tracked down the dog's owner, thanks to Hudson's microchip. By 2 p.m. that day, Falconer arrived at Animal Services with his parents.
"When I arrived in the front lobby, Hudson was definitely pleased to see Falconer's parents," said kennel caretaker Heather Hart. "However, it was nothing in comparison to when he spotted his owner. Hudson was overwhelmed to see Falconer and was bathing him in kisses."
About a week later, Falconer and a healthier looking Hudson met Finnegan and Mead at the Robb Drive off ramp where the successful rescue operation took place.
"Without Mrs. Mead, we probably could never have rescued this dog. I think of her as a lifesaver," Finnegan said of the good Samaritan who made the happy reunion possible.
See pics of that reunion here.