By Jeff Louderback
Eight years after he was taken during a home invasion in Barberton, Junior was recently reunited with his overjoyed owner, Julia Nemeth.
Junior was a puppy when he was taken during the robbery in 2012. Julia was heartbroken and frantically searched for her canine companion for months and then years, but to no avail. Then, in mid-December, she saw a photo on the Humane Society of Summit County website. The dog looked a lot like Junior, she thought.
Julia called the shelter right away. Staff members compared photos of Junior to Buddy, which was his name at the shelter, and determined there might be a match.
Julia raised Junior as a puppy, training him to be her companion and protector. She taught him hand signals so they could communicate without waking her sleeping infant.
When Julia met Junior at the shelter, he immediately connected with her, licking her face and obeying the hand signals she had taught him years ago. Married and the mother of four children, Julia brought her family to meet the long-lost dog.
“I just couldn’t believe it’s real,” Julia told reporters. “It’s one of those things, I’m touching him, I’m loving on him, but it’s not real. How can it be real? It has been so long. I balled. I was over the moon.”
After the home invasion, Julia scoured animal shelter photos and online pet postings, and searched lost-and-found pet groups online, but the efforts did not produce the desired result. One time, Julia recalled, she thought Junior was listed for sale on Craigslist, but the seller never responded to her email.
According to the humane society, ‘Buddy’ was surrendered to them in July 2018. A staff favorite, he was adopted three times over the years but was returned each time because he was not an ideal fit.
Now 11, Junior snuggles on the couch with his family and is bonding with the children, Julia reports.
“I can’t believe Junior is home,” she said. “He carried me through the challenges of my life and to have him back means everything to me.”
The best way to make sure your pet can find his way home if he becomes lost is by wearing a collar with contact information, according to the Humane Society of Summit County. It is also ideal to have your dog microchipped and ensure the contact information on your microchip is up to date.