Three years after the Harworth family was told Zeus, their Chow Chow/German Shepherd/Rottweiler mix, had died, the military family has been reunited with their beloved — and very much alive — dog.
When Ben Harworth was reassigned from Fort Bragg in North Carolina to a U.S. military base in South Korea in 2012, the family left Zeus with a family friend who lived nearby.
A few months later, the Harworths were heartbroken when, for some still-unknown reason, the friend told them Zeus had died.
Fast forward three years. Last month Laura Williams of Durham, N.C., spotted a scrawny Rottweiler mix wandering along a road.
“He was looking all lethargic and out of it, and not really too well,” Williams told WNCN July 16. “He let me put a collar and a leash on him, and he jumped into my car.”
She took him to the Banfield Pet Hospital in Raleigh, where it was discovered the dog had a microchip. His name was — wait for it — Zeus! And his owners were… the Harworths!
Williams was able to track down and phone the Harworths, who are now living in Washington state. It was a strange call, to say the least.
“When I said, ‘We found your dog, Zeus’ – because he was listed as lost — they said their dog was dead,” Williams told WNCN.
“We all got chills. The girl from the vet got chills. I got goosebumps, and I almost started crying because for the past three years, they thought their dog was dead.”
WNCN reporter Sean Maroney arranged a Skype reunion for Zeus and the Harworths. The dog’s tail wagged nonstop as Melody and her two teenage sons cried, “Zeusy! Hi, Zeusy!”
But it would still be a while before Zeus could be reunited with his family in person. He had heartworm and couldn’t fly on a plane. His pet parents had other obligations and were unable to drive across the country to get him.
Rachel Overby, practice manager of the Banfield Pet Hospital — which covered the cost of Zeus’s heartworm treatment — volunteered to take him home.
“Yeah, it’s kind of like a movie plot,” she told WNCN earlier this week. “I’m just excited to be getting him home, I know if it was my baby, I’d want somebody to bring him back to me.”
As Overby drove Zeus more than 2,850 miles from Raleigh to Seattle, she posted updates on Instagram and Facebook, with the hashtag #GetZeusHome.
They reached their destination yesterday. The entire Harworth family (and probably a few reporters) got teary-eyed when the dog they’d thought was long dead emerged from the van, very much alive.
“I’m just completely blown away and amazed at how this this is going and how many people were just willing to turn and help a dog they don’t know and a family they don’t know anything about,” Ben told reporters, according to The News Tribune.
The happy family — all five of them — left to go home, where Zeus will meet another family member: a Chihuahua named Bear.
“Forget #GetZeusHome … we #GotZeusHome!” WNCN’s Maroney tweeted yesterday.
Incidentally, today happens to be National Check the Chip Day. This story should serve as an important reminder to make sure the contact information on your dog’s microchip is up to date.