4 years after his disappearance, the “sweetest” dog and Michigan woman reunite
Four years after her beloved pet Jack disappeared from outside their Detroit home, Desirae Cornell had long given up dreams of seeing him again.
Then, one morning last week, the 22-year-old woke up to a message from a stranger she could hardly believe: The Shepherd’s Mix had been found near Flint.
“I started to cry instantly,” said Cornell. “Actually, I had recently been thinking about having a dog… but my heart wasn’t really there because of what happened to Jack.”
The couple reunited on Thursday thanks to Cornell’s decision to microchip his puppy as well as police and a dog rescue advocate taking extra steps to ensure Jack can return home.
“It was exceptional because we find a lot of dogs that don’t have fleas,” said Bill Heatley, founder / director of Streethearts Animal Rescue in Burton, who worked to connect them. “It just proves that if a dog has a flea, he will be discovered somehow.”
Cornell took advantage of a program to microchip Jack shortly after she became its owner about five years ago. The two bonded when she brought food or water for the nearly one-year-old dog to her former home in her neighborhood, she said.
“He looked so lonely,” Cornell said. “The face he made as he sat on that channel everyday – he just looked like he wanted someone to pay attention to him, and I’ve always been a sucker for animals. “
Cornell was already raising other dogs and when Jack’s owners said they didn’t want him anymore, she jumped at the chance to become his “mom”.
He filled his days until a warm spring night in 2017, when Cornell briefly left the pup outside in their fenced yard. She returned to find the door unlocked and Jack missing.
“I was heartbroken,” Cornell said. “I searched the neighborhood and filed (a report) with the police. I really never heard anything back. I had just lost hope after about a year.
Cornell eventually moved to Redford Township, had two children and survived the loss of a job during the pandemic before finding a new one this year.
Meanwhile, it was not known where Jack was until he resurfaced on Wednesday night, over an hour north of a Sunoco parking lot in Mount Morris.
Police were called there to deal with a homeless man who had Jack and was in need of medical attention, Heatley said.
The man returned the dog, who was wearing a harness and appeared to be healthy, he added. One of the agents, Victoria Butcher, contacted Heatley, whose association rescues animals and finds them foster homes.
Once Jack calmed down, Heatley scanned him for a microchip and contacted the company to find out the identity of the owner.
The company emailed Cornell and Heatley separately connected with them through Facebook and then by phone.
The news of Jack’s recovery left her “purely shocked,” she said. “It was very moving.”
Within hours, Cornell arranged to meet Heatley and Butcher at the Mount Morris Police Department.
Wagging his tail as he greeted her for the first time in four years, Jack quickly lay down on the sidewalk so they could snuggle up. “I couldn’t stop smiling,” said Cornell. “I was very happy. He sort of landed at my feet and said, where were you?
Shortly after the reunion, Cornell rushed to make an appointment with the vet, buy some treats, and bring his companion to a dog park to frolic.
So far, Jack seems to be adjusting well to his 2-year-old son and 6-month-old daughter while showing off the playful personality that Cornell has fallen in love with.
“He’s exactly the same. He’s the nicest, ”she said in a phone interview on Friday as Jack was resting nearby. “It’s like he’s never been gone and he’s supposed to be here. It’s like a puzzle piece that fits together perfectly.