Joy as cherished pet dog reunited with Burnley owner a year after she went missing
Toni Heaton had more or less given up hope of ever finding her precious chihuahua, Dotty, after she vanished from her home in Rosegrove in March last year.
So when the tiny pet was found abandoned in a box in a Burnley beauty spot last week Toni could not quite believe the news until her pet was safely back in her arms.
Toni said: "At first I thought it could be a mistake as there has been a couple of sightings of Dotty over the past year that ended up being false.
"So when I saw her I could hardly believe it was her. She was so pleased to see me and she tried to climb into the hood of my coat.
"Now she won't let me put her down but it is so good to have her back. I never imagined this would happen after so long."
Dotty disappeared from the family home last year when she was just seven-months-old. Toni's mum was cooking in the kitchen with the back door to the garden open and when she turned around Dotty had vanished.
Toni, who was convinced Dotty had been taken as the garden was secure, launched an appeal to find her treasured pet and an appeal on social media received a massive 3,500 shares. Toni and her son Brendan (17) also went trawling the streets of Burnley and put up posters around the area in a bid to find her.
A care worker at Towneley House residential home in Burnley, Toni's manager even helped with the search for Dotty who is distinctive looking as she is a rare ginger/reddish colour which is quite rare.
Dotty was discovered at Hurstwood by the friend of one of Toni's neighbours who recognised the the distinctive pooch from the lost posters. she had been placed there in a box with a hot water bottle, blanket and cuddly toys.
Toni said: "I re shared the lost post as it was coming up to the first anniversary of Dotty going missing so maybe if someone did take her it made them feel guilty?
"Whoever left her in the box wanted her to be okay and I am just glad she was found by someone who recognised her."
And although she has been away from from home for a year, Dotty settlled straight back into her routine and has even made friends with Maximus, a 14-month-old long haired chihuahua Toni got from a rescue centre.
Toni said: "It is like they have always been together and Max won't leave her alone, he is constantly by her side."
Toni has thanked the many people who helped and supported her with the search for Dotty adding: "People have been wonderful and I have kept in touch with many of them.
"I want everyone to know how grateful I am for their support."
Caption: Toni pictured with Dotty, who she has been reunited with a year after she went missing, and her Maximus