NORFOLK, Va. (WTKR) - Lately, it's been all quality time between Adam Cusimano, his husband, Frank, and their Shiba Inu mix, Missy.
“She was one of my first children,” Adam told WTKR. “It definitely feels a little bit more upbeat now in the house, now that one of our children are back.”
For the Cusimanos, Missy means the world to them.
“She was a big part of our lives,” Adam said. “She definitely made us smile all the time.”
That is until one day about four years ago when Adam said Missy went into their yard in Norfolk.
“I think maybe 10 minutes had gone by; we went outside to smoke a cigarette, and there was no Missy,” he said. “We honestly do not know how she got out.”
“We lost our minds. We probably didn’t sleep for about 72 hours,” he added. “That whole week, it felt like there was a death in the family.”
From day one, the couple searched far and wide in neighborhoods and shelters across Hampton Roads. Then days turned into weeks, then months, and eventually years.
“I never thought that I would see her again,” Adam said.
But Adam and Frank never gave up.
“We were actually having a conversation two weeks ago out back with my mother, and I was like, ‘wouldn’t it be crazy if we got a phone call saying that Missy was back?'"
That call came from the Norfolk Animal Care and Adoption Center (NACC) last Saturday, about 1,460 days after the Cusimanos last saw Missy.
“She was like, ‘I have your dog, Missy. Has she been missing for a couple of days?’ I was like, ‘I haven’t seen my dog in over four years,'” Adam said. “Once we were on the way there, there was nothing but excitement to get her back.”
A good Samaritan found Missy as a stray near the Cusimanos' former Norfolk home and took her into the center.
“They [The Cusimanos] were in shock," NACC Bureau Manager Michelle Dosson said. “Four years later, she was ready to go home.”
NACC officials said it was a microchip and updated contact information that helped make the reunion happen.
“It just shows the efficacy and gives people a reason to microchip their animals,” Dosson said. “We get really involved because pets are family, and we want to keep families together.”
Now, Missy is back with her family in Suffolk being treated for pneumonia and improving day by day.
“Her wheezing has gone down,” Adam said. “She’s moving a lot more. She actually took me for a run this morning.”
The Cusimanos said they are thankful for the good Samaritan who found Missy.
An emotional reunion with an important lesson.
“Never give up,” Adam said. “Animals are resilient. As you can see by looking at her, she’s gone through it, but she’s going to be OK.”
As for the future, Adam and Frank are looking forward to new days and memories with Missy ahead.
This story originally reported by Zak Dahlheimer on WTKR.com.