WANTAGH, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — A dog that disappeared weeks ago was reunited with his loving family Saturday on Long Island.
‘Welcome home’ balloons and ecstatic children meant Buddy was back where he belongs in Wantagh.
“It was like my first time crying happy tears, because I was so happy to see him,” one of the kids told CBS2’s Jessica Borg.
It was a reunion the family waited three weeks for.
The 1-year-old Beagle-Lab mix was accidentally lost by a sitter the family hired through the pet-sitting app, Wag. Buddy pushed open the front door of a Massapequa home and darted away.
His owner, Mary Ellen Humphrey, was distraught.
“I was getting worried we’d never see him again,” she said. “Thank God we got him back, that’s all I can say.”
Saturday the dog was spotted by Kerri Harty, while she walked her dog near a preserve in Seaford – about 1.5 miles away from where Buddy went missing. She found him standing next to a utility pole with a “lost dog” flyer featuring his face.
“He was just standing right there, just staring at us,” Harty said.
Humphrey’s close friends and strangers in the area had been searching endlessly for the dog – some using unconventional measures.
“I even slept out in the preserve and cooked up steak trying to lure the dog in, but the raccoons ate the steak,” said Wantagh resident Cathy Vaughn.
Local police, veterinarians and shelters were notified, and drones searched from above. The family was so desperate, they hired a K-9 tracker.
Buddy isn’t a trained therapy dog, but he helps take care of 4-year-old Jack, who’s deaf.
“Buddy is his best friend, and he alerts us sometimes when Jack is trying to get out of the house or trying to do some things,” Humphrey said. “He really stays right on him to kind of guard him all the time.”
The dog was treated for ticks and minor scrapes to his paws. He’s eight pounds lighter from his adventure, but just as energetic as ever.
The family said they aren’t afraid that Buddy will go missing again. He now has a GPS to give everyone peace of mind.
A spokesperson for Wag told CBS2 the company’s handlers are thoroughly vetted and that fewer than five percent make the cut. The company also assisted in the search.