Last week, four-year-old Lukas Smith's dog was stolen outside of a grocery store in Peterborough, Canada. The loss was devastating, because for the Smith family, Bailey the dog wasn't just any pet. This was the dog that kept Lukas company after his father died in 2010. This was the dog that made Lukas smile.
Today, after nearly a week of pleading, searching and worrying, the Smith finally has found an unexpected happy ending: Bailey and Lukas is smiling again.
The story captivated the community after Smith's boyfriend made a short trip into a local grocery store and left the dog, a Pomeranian-Chihuahua mix, near his bike outside. When he returned, Bailey was gone. Smith said she was afraid Lukas, who faces speech and motor challenges, wouldn't be able to process the grief.
"The first thing Lukas sees when he goes to sleep and the first thing he sees when he wakes up -- it's Bailey" she told the Peterborough Examiner. "We need this dog back."
After concerned readers rallied around the family, offering assistance and even reward money, the unthinkable happened. A few days after the incident, the Peterborough Humane Society received an anonymous call about a dog tied to a tree near the organization's office. It was Bailey, safe and sound.
Smith and her family are overjoyed, and ultimately grateful. She says she has no doubt that the attention the story earned is what led to Bailey's safe return.
"We can't thank everyone enough for helping Lukas get his dog back," she said. "We're so happy to have him back. We are complete once again."
It's an ending every family hopes for, and for Smith, the fact that someone dared take her family's dog away matters much less than the kindness that led Bailey back home.
"I wasn't looking to get anyone in trouble," Smith said. "I'm more glad they had a change of heart and brought the dog back."