A part-time Marathon woman was reunited with her 10-year-old dog Nov. 17 — nearly four years after it ran away in Miami.
Rosemary Maseri said that although her lhasa apso named Negrita is blind and nearly deaf, she knew right away that she was being reunited with her owner.
"When I saw her and grabbed her, she clinged onto me," Maseri said. "I wanted her to know it was me so I laid her on her belly and scratched her stomach. I told her to do her ballerina legs. She stretched out her legs and that's how I knew she knew who I was."
Maseri had no hope of seeing Negrita again after she escaped from Maseri's Miami home on Dec. 22, 2011. She said Negrita was all that got her through her depression after losing her husband in 2006. For years, Maseri said she'd lay in bed with her dog, refusing to leave her house.
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"She was the love of my life," she said. "I'd constantly call the microchip company and animal services, always wondering what happened to her."
Maseri worried Negrita wasn't receiving her medication — or that she had suffered a worse fate.
On Nov. 8, nearly four years after her dog went missing on Dec. 22, 2011, the Miami-Dade County Animal Services Department sent her a letter saying it had Negrita. Staff identified her through her microchip.
Maseri has no idea where the dog was for the four years. But she had until Nov. 14 to retrieve it but couldn't make it to the animal shelter that day. Negrita was adopted out by then.
"I cried, I pleaded, I begged for my dog back," Maseri said. "I told them to call the lady who adopted her. I told them she didn't love her yet, not like me."
The new owner, who Maseri didn't meet, agreed to return the dog. Maseri and Negrita were reunited Nov. 17. Since then, Maseri's taken her dog to Sombrero Beach and out boating.
Helen Avendano, social media specialist with the Miami-Dade County Animal Services Department, said that with 500 dogs a week coming through Animal Services, being reunited with owners isn't common.
"Normally when dogs are found, the number of them returned to their owners isn't necessarily high," she said. "The fact she was able to find her dog after being turned in is a good thing."
While having pets microchipped is important, Avendano stressed it's important to call the microchip company and update your information every time you move or change phone numbers.
She also recommends registering pets on the Finding Rover smartphone app, where owners can post photos of their dogs and their contact information. Avendano said dogs in the Miami-Dade area have been recovered through the app.
Maseri is just happy to have Negrita back.
"She has her issues. I've taken in a dog that's totally blind and deaf, I think," Maseri said. "When I found her in Miami, she was a stray, a puppy about 12 weeks old.
"On our way down driving to Marathon, she puts her paws on the wheel, smiling away. Those are the things she would always do with me."