It’s always heartbreaking when a pet goes missing, especially one that has been such a source of comfort and gotten you through many hard times.
But recently, one woman was stunned after being reunited with her dog five years after she went missing — and that wasn’t the only surprise in store.
Jen Costa, from Nassau County, New York, adopted her dog Azzurra Diamante, an Olde English Bulldogge, as a puppy in January 2016. It was a difficult time in her life marked by depression and weight gain after being hit by a bus, but Azzurra and her older dog Bruno helped her get through it.
“She was my second joy and I lived for them both… my life just revolved around my dogs,” Jen wrote in Newsweek.
Things got even harder in 2017, when Jen was diagnosed with static tongue and oropharyngeal cancer, and had to have her tongue removed. “I couldn’t speak to anyone,” Jen told the Jackson Sun. “I was clinically dead for a few minutes. I was in a coma for three days.”
Bedridden from sickness, she says her dogs were there for her through the difficult time.
“If I hadn’t had Bruno and Azzurra at home, I’m not sure I would have made it through having cancer,” she wrote. “They were everything to me, I saw them as my kids and the reason I had something to do.”
But soon, as she was still recovering from cancer, her beloved dog would disappear from her life: during a stop at a gas station with her two dogs, someone stole Azzurra.
Jen and her friends looked everywhere for the dog, putting up flyers. But it became clear that someone had stolen the dog and had no intention of returning her:
“Nobody knew anything, not even the people at the gas station. So that was it,” she recalled.
Five years passed, and while she missed Azzurra, Jen’s life improved overall: she recovered from cancer and lost “hundreds of pounds.” But she experienced another heartbreak last summer, after her other dog Bruno passed away from cancer.
“After he died, I remember saying to him in my head: ‘Bruno, now that you’re up in heaven, I hope that you can see that your sister is OK wherever she is out there,'” Jen recalled to Newsweek.
But last month, she got an unexpected miracle that turned everything around.
Hundreds of miles away, in Henderson, Tennessee, a woman named Abbie Bayless found an English bulldog at her front door in October 2021.
She and her roommate took the dog in for care: “She wasn’t in the best condition, but we tried to nurse her back to health and got her some medicine and stuff,” Abbie told the Jackson Sun.
The roommates fostered the dog for a few weeks, but unable to care for her full-time, they took her to Henderson Animal Control, who found a microchip that could identify the owner.
To their amazement, the dog had come all the way from New York: it was Jen’s long-lost dog Azzurra, finally found after five years.
“I figured it was a mistake,” Jen told the Sun. “It was a confusing emotion—I was just dumbfounded… I was so happy.”
She was also surprised that her dog had made it all the way to Tennessee, but drove across the country to reunite with her long-lost friend.
Thankfully, there was no love lost, and Azzurra seemed to recognize her immediately: “It’s like she took up right where she left off. She stood up on the front seat and was ready to go, just like she used to,” Jen told Newsweek.
But there was still another surprise left in store.
Jen hung around Tennessee with her reunited dog for a few days while waiting for a vet appointment, and she noticed Azzurra acting strangely.
“She was panting so loudly—I couldn’t even sleep it was so loud,” she told the Sun. “She was really restless, jumping up and down off the bed. I didn’t know what was going on.”
Later, she “noticed she was licking something” and discovered that Azzurra had given birth to a puppy!
It was a big shock — the dog only had one puppy, so she didn’t look like she was pregnant. But it was a welcome surprise for Jen, who was moved after noticing how the puppy reminded her of an old friend.
“The puppy looks just like Bruno!” Jen said. “It’s wild.”
“God must have a sense of humor,” she added.
“It’s like I got Bruno back again, in a way. It doesn’t seem real—I feel like I’m living in a movie.”
But her story doesn’t have a complete “happy ending” just yet: Jen wants to keep both dogs, but is trying to figure out how to make it work with her living situation. She is living in a hotel in Tennessee, and says she can’t bring the dogs to live with her in New York because she lives with family.
She has set up a GoFundMe fundraising page, and told Newsweek that she is trying to buy an RV so she can live with her dogs.
Still, reuniting with Azzurra and her new puppy, after going through so much in life, has been a life-changing sign of hope for Jen.
“I hope that seeing me and Azzurra reunited after everything restores some faith,” she wrote. “There’s so much magic around us in life. I just hope my story and my journey can help others see life’s beauty.”
We’re so glad Jen reunited with her beloved dog after so many years apart, and also got a “reincarnation” of her late dog Bruno.
She’s survived so much and we hope she can find a way to live happily with all her dogs.
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