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Lost dog found 18 months later, 1,200 miles away

  • Chihuahua-daschund mix was separated from family in 2011
  • Thanks to a microchip and some kind strangers, she is back

Seriously, if you have a pet, you should really consider micro-chipping. Take sweet little Puka, for instance. Without some forethought from her owner and a few kind strangers along the way, she would still be hundreds of miles from home.

Puka, a Chihuahua-daschund mix, somehow escaped from the yard of her family's military housing at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, in June 2011. Her owner, Mandi Smith, said she put up posters and searched the neighborhood for a month.

Though she found no sign of her pup, she had hope -- she had micro-chipped Puka, and was told over and over again that the procedure could save her life. “I had my doubts [about microchips] when she didn't come home because that's all I was telling people," Smith told HLN affiliate KRQE. 'She's micro-chipped. If they find her, all they have to do is scan her.”

Months lapped into years. Somehow, Puka ended up nearly 1,200 miles from her home in Kentucky to Espanola, New Mexico, where a woman found her and brought her to the Espanola Humane Society. Vets discovered she had been on quite an adventure -- she was well-cared for and recently had puppies. They said most strays they receive aren't microchipped, but Puka was. They were able to scan her and were shocked to find where she had come from.

Nina Stively of the Espanola Humane Society was the one who got to call Smith with the wonderful news. "When I got ahold of the person, I said, 'You're not going to believe this, but bear with me. I promise I'm not trying to sell you something,'” Stively told KRQE. “The first thing [Smith] asked as a great pet owner is, ‘Is she OK? Is she healthy, happy, OK?”

Puka is all of the above. She is staying with a foster family, and another kind soul at the Humane Society has donated her frequent flyer miles so Smith can fly to New Mexico and pick up Puka herself. It's a happy ending for a dog who had one big adventure and one tiny chip that brought her back home.

Read more about Puka's journey and see more of her cuteness at KQRE.


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