Michael Nelson was happy to learn that his beloved pet, a stray dog he named H.D., has found a new home. He read about it recently in the Times Free Press.
Brandy, a cocker-spaniel mix, was reunited last month with her previous owner after more than five years of separation.
Ken Strackman, of Miami, was contacted last month by McKamey Animal Care and Adoption Center after a routine veterinary examination here uncovered an identification chip in the dog that listed Strackman as the owner.
The dog had bolted from Strackman after he arrived in Chattanooga for a Thanksgiving visit in 2005.
Brandy eventually found her way to Nelson, who worked at a convenience store blocks from where she ran away.
Nelson, who recently lost his job and was diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, said he had no choice but to take the former stray, H.D. (for Homeless Dog), to McKamey.
"It was one of the hardest things I've ever had to do," said Nelson, 58. "I was aware of McKamey and that they take good care of animals. Still, it broke my heart. When we got to McKamey, I walked in the door and had to turn around and walk back out to get the courage to take her back in."
Nelson said that the first time he saw Brandy/H.D., he was working at a convenience store on Hixson Pike about three blocks from where he lived. It was February 2006, several months after the dog had gone missing from Strackman. The dog "started coming around the store at night," Nelson said. "She looked hungry, so I started putting food in a bowl by the walkway.
After a couple of months, she let Nelson pet her. "I knew she finally trusted me," she said.
Unable to entice the dog into his car, Nelson walked home one night, hoping the dog would follow him. She did. For the next several years, H.D. had a good home and was loved, Nelson said.
"I did the best I could for her. I didn't make much money, so I couldn't afford veterinary care, but I got her flea medication, and she ate good, sometimes better than I did. I took her to dog parks, and she liked to ride in the car. It was just the two of us. We were good friends."
Nelson said the story couldn't have had a better ending than his dog being reunited with her previous owner.
"I am very happy knowing that she's back with someone who loves her," he said. "If he was willing to drive 1,000 miles to get his dog, then I know he loves her. I never knew about the [microchip] being in her, and I feel bad about not taking her to a vet. But I did my best and loved her. I still do."