When Champ ran away in 2013, Manuel Vejar spent months looking for his Siberian Husky. But despite reported sightings, he was unsuccessful.
Then one day recently, an animal control officer knocked on his door, and he came bearing good news. Champ was alive!
“You just get chills, you know? It just runs down your body and your heart sinks and you’re thinking to yourself… ‘Is this a dream? Is this real?'” Vejar said.
Vejar first got Champ in 2011, when he was serving on board the USS George H.W. Bush in the Arabic Gulf. One of his friends in Virginia had a Siberian Husky, and he was impressed with the breed.
While Vejar continued to serve in the Navy, Champ lived in Tulare, California with Vejar’s family. But when Vejar returned home the two spent every day together.
Until one day while he was at work, Vejar’s mother called him to tell Champ had escaped.
Vejar, who is currently a Navy recruiter, did everything in his power to find Champ, including contacting the microchip registry could not find his dog.
“It’s almost as if you lost a family member,” he said. “And your family member was gone for so long, you thought the possibility of this family member being dead, you know?”
Then, nearly 7 years after Champ ran away, a Tulare Animal Control Officer showed up at Vejar’s front door and asked if he knew Champ.
The dog had been found by a farmer, who lived only 13 miles away!
Champ had reportedly been living on the farmer’s property for at least a month, and had recently begun limping. The farmer was able to get Champ to trust him enough that he was able to bring him to a vet, and it was there that they learned Champ belonged to Vejar.
“He stopped for a second. I said, ‘Hey Champ!’ He turned his head,” Vejar said. “It was immediate, wagging of the tail, licking, all of that.”
“For people who have lost their animals, lost their pets, just don’t lose that hope. There’s always that chance. Even if it’s a one in a 100,000 chance of finding a dog,” Vejar said. “There’s always that chance.”
A GoFundMe has been set up to help cover Champ’s medical expenses. He has a dislocated elbow, and it’s likely that he will need surgery.
Welcome home, Champ!
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