BEFORE Christmas 1997, Joyce and William Stanford and their
son Stuart welcomed a new Beagle puppy into their lives. They
christened their new pet Droopy, as her ears were
so long that she resembled the canine cartoon character of the
However, just a few months later, Droopy vanished whilst playing in the garden. Despite an extensive poster and advertising campaign to locate their dog, the family reluctantly accepted that they would never see her again.
Then, in mid December 2002, almost five years later, Mrs Stanford was delighted to receive a telephone call from the RSPCA informing her that her long lost pet had been found.
Staff at the RSPCAs Birmingham Animal Hospital had traced Droopys owner by scanning her microchip, which had been fitted when she was a pup.
"Id given up all hope of seeing her again," said Mrs Stanford. "I cried half the night after we got her back. It has made by Christmas."
Mrs Stanford, whose husband has since died of cancer, believes Droopy was stolen from her home in Tipton, West Midlands.
"I had gone to visit my mother and I left Droopy playing in the garden," she said. "I saw a couple of men watching her. I didnt think anything of it a the time, but now I think she was stolen."
Stuart, 27, added: "It was such a shock. I dont know where she was for the past five years. I wish she could talk."
Droopys whereabouts over the past five years has been a mystery, but she was picked up as a stray wandering in the Northfield area of Birmingham.
She was taken to the RSPCAs animal hospital in the city where staff scanned her and found the details on her microchip.
Droopy is now settling in at home with Mrs Stanford and her other dog, Bruce, who was bought about 6 months after she went missing.
RSPCA veterinary nurse Suzanne Murphy said Droopy was in good condition and appeared to have been well looked after.
"We often see pets reunited with their owners, but never after such a long time," she said.
"I didnt think she would recognise her old owners, but she definitely did. She was very excited."