Lola the service dog is back home following an emotional reunion with her family after living in the woods for three years.
Debra and her husband Steven Mejeur from Kalamazoo, Michigan, were visiting friends in Illinois in 2017 when Lola escaped from a fenced-in backyard.
In an interview with "Good Morning America," Debra said the 8-year-old black Labrador mix is a service dog and is usually very calm.
"I immediately panicked because that's not her demeanor," she said.
Debra, who has epilepsy, said she and her husband searched for days before returning to Michigan without Lola.
Upon returning home, Debra said she joined every local Facebook group she could find for the area where her friends lived to try and track down Lola, but had no luck.
During the first few months, Debra and Steven went back to Illinois every weekend in the hopes of finding the missing animal.
- 1November 18, 2020
- 2October 16, 2019
"Every time we left Chicago to come back to Michigan, I felt like I was abandoning her and leaving her behind," Debra said.
Eventually, Debra and Steven said they had to mentally prepare for that fact that Lola might never return home.
The couple kept Lola in their thoughts until three years later, when they say a miracle happened.
Debra said she received a phone call from the microchip company that had implanted Lola with a chip, saying that she had been found in DuPage County, Illinois, about 15 miles from where she disappeared.
"I just started crying," Debra said, "I sat there, I just couldn't stand still, [I was] shaking so much. I was pacing back and forth. I was like, 'This is unbelievable.'"
According to Debra, another couple from the area had been feeding Lola for more than a year before they were able to get a leash on her and bring her to DuPage County Animal Services.
They believe Lola had been living by herself in the woods since she went missing in 2017.
The day after finding out where Lola was, Debra and Steven drove to DuPage County, where they were finally able to see their dog again.
"When Lola finally came up, she sniffed my forehead, and then she licked it. And that's when her tail started wagging," Debra said. "She started jumping with excitement. It just felt like a dream to me."
After returning home with Lola, Debra said it's like she never left.
She said Lola has the same personality and even remembers some of her old commands.
"This reunion is the type of story people need this Christmas season. It also reminds us how important it is to microchip your animal," said Brian Krajewski, chairman of the DuPage County Animal Service Committee. "If someone comes across a stray and brings the animal to a shelter, we can scan them and reunite them with the family."