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New Mexico Family Reunited with Long-Lost Dog Picked Up in Oswego

Mar 16, 2015 03:36PM ● By Steven Jack

5-year-old Grace was reunited with her long-lost companion Josie on Tuesday. (Submitted photo)

It’s exactly 1,487.3 miles from tiny Hatch, New Mexico to Oswego, Illinois. 

That’s a long way for a person to travel, and it seems like an impossible distance for a lost 15-year-old border collie who was presumed to have passed away months ago.

How Josie managed to escape her home on the 2,000-acre onion farm in rural southern New Mexico last July is still a mystery. One theory is she was taken by a semi-driver who came to the farm to collect the latest harvest.

“We thought she was gone,” said Rachel Carpenter, who has been with Josie since she was a freshman in college 15 years ago. “We searched all our little local towns for three months, but nothing ever did turn up. We never had any closure. We thought she might have been run over and taken off the road, too. So, when we got this call from Chicago, we were just all in shock.”

The miracle call that Josie had been found and was alive came last week from Critter Care Veterinarian Services in Plano — where she had been taken by Oswego resident Katherine Manola for an upper respiratory infection. Josie came into Manola’s care as a foster dog March 7 through suburban Angels on Wheels Pet Rescue.

Josie previously was scanned for a microchip at the Joplin, Mo. shelter where she was last abandoned Feb. 25, but no chip was found. When she was rescanned at the vet in Plano, a chip was discovered that led back to Carpenter, her husband, Jake, and their two children — Colt, 8, and Grace. 5.

“I’ve read stories like this in the past, but nothing like this has ever happened to me,” said Manola, owner of Go Dog Go in downtown Oswego. “She was just so far from home. … It just shows the importance of having your animals chipped and that shelters and vets have updated equipment.”

A few days after receiving the call that Josie was alive and arranging the time off from his work in the New Mexico oil fields, Jake Carpenter hopped in the family’s car and drove 22 hours straight through to Manola’s Oswego home. Only stopping for gas and short naps, he picked her up Monday before dawn, stayed for about 15 minutes and headed home for a happy family reunion.

“I’m so happy for this family,” Manola said. “They are wonderful people.”

The reunion likely will be even more special for young Grace who was diagnosed with a brain tumor when she was just 14-months-old. The two developed an inseparable bond as Grace recovered from the successful surgery to remove the tumor.

“Josie was always by her side,” Rachel said. “When Grace was in the hospital for three months she just wasn’t herself, but when she got home and saw Josie everything changed. I always worried before we had kids that Josie would get jealous. It’s just been the exact opposite. She’s been their little guardian.”

As a working dog, Rachel said over the years Josie also has prevented several dangerous accidents involving the farm’s cattle.

“She was always right where she needed to be,” Rachel said. 

Josie is deaf now, and Rachel said she is starting to show her age after years of hard work on the farm.

“I don’t know how much longer she’ll be with us, but I can tell you she’ll be pampered every day she’s here.” 

That royal treatment starts as soon as Jake and Josie complete the 3,000 mile round trip to New Mexico sometime on Tuesday.

“Grace loves to give Josie (bones)," Rachel said. “She's got some waiting for her when she gets home."