12 years and 1,000 miles between them, Florida pet owner reunites with her pet Dutchess

Hungry, shivering and unkempt, Dutchess lay under a shed in Pennsylvania.

As the 14-year-old Fox Terrier rested, she may have been dreaming of a home she once lost 12 years ago in South Florida.

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Dutchess ran way from her Boca Raton home 12 years ago and somehow traveled more than 1,000 miles to Pennsylvania. The 14-year-old Fox Terrier was reunited with her owner, Katheryn Strang, on Friday. Humane Animal Rescue’s North Side Animal Resource Center

It was Feb. 28, 2007, and pet owner Katheryn Strang was at work while her 12-year-old son was at their Boca Raton home with Dutchess. He accidentally opened the door and Dutchess ran out.

She never came back. Dutchess was in Strang’s life since she was adopted at 4 months old from a pet store.

Somehow, Dutchess traveled over 1,000 miles and found herself alone and cold under a shed in Pittsburgh.

But Dutchess’ days of suffering came to end when the shed’s owner brought her to Humane Animal Rescue’s North Side Animal Resource Center.

During her exam, vets found a microchip that traced back to Strang. Dutchess’ harrowing tale was about to get a lot happier.

When employees at Humane Animal Rescue called Strang, she was in shock.

“I can’t believe you’re calling me right now. I can’t believe this is happening,” Strang said.

Strang immediately made plans to drive up to Pittsburgh to be with Dutchess.

On Friday, Strang was reunited with her long-lost friend. The Humane Animal Rescue live-streamed the heart-wrenching moment.

“I’m just so happy to have her back right now,” Strang said through tears.

Strang held out hope that Dutchess would come back so she kept paying for the microchip to be in service, the one that led Dutchess back to her.

“It was $15 a year,” she said. “I wasn’t going to give up hope for that.”

She went to the local shelter daily when Dutchess ran away, walking through the rows to check if she was there. She wanted to see with her own eyes.

She also flipped through a book at the shelter that logged dead animals picked up on roadsides.

She did this for months.

During the 12 years of separation, Strang thought two things could have happened. Either her dog was killed by a car or taken into a home.

Luckily, Dutchess survived her adventure. But no one knows how Dutchess ended up more than a thousand miles away in Pennsylvania.

Miami Herald Real Time Reporter Devoun Cetoute covers breaking news, Florida theme parks and general assignment. He attends the University of Florida and grew up in Miami. Theme parks are on his mind in and out of the office.