‘Never give up hope’: Lost dog comes home after 7 years

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TULARE, Calif. (KSEE) – Manuel Vejar’s dog, Champ, ran away while he was serving in the U.S. Navy in 2013. While he admits there were times it was hard to hold onto that dream, Vejar always hoped he’d see Champ again.

Vejar first saw Champ as an 8-week-old puppy. He knew they’d be together the moment he saw Champ.

“I saw him and was like you know what, that’s the one. That’s the one I’m going to get,” he recalls.

Vejar would be deployed that year for two years. When he returned, he’d get six more months with Champ before he ran away — chewing through two fences. For the following two months, he’d continue to look for Champ throughout the area, going off of Facebook messages he’d get.

But soon, the messages slowed, eventually coming to a halt. Until last week.

However, he never stopped thinking of Champ.

“Life just kind of went on and I always wondered about him,” Vejar said.

He’d find out on July 10, this past Friday. He got a number of calls from an unknown number and an animal control officer came to his door with the news he’s been waiting seven years to hear — Champ has been found alive.

The emotions Vejar felt in that moment are indescribable, he said, “I’m not a person to cry or anything.”

Vejar would learn a local farmer actually found Champ around his farm a month ago. After gaining the dog’s trust, the farmer noticed he was injured, so he took him to the vet. There, Champ’s microchip was checked and Vejar was contacted.

While Champ’s full seven year journey home will remain a mystery, Vejar knows for sure the moral of the story is to never give up.

“I hope there’s people out there that can see this and still maintain hope their pets one day will come home,” he said.

There is a GoFundMe campaign to help pay for Champ’s medical expenses. You can click here to find it.

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