SAN ANTONIO - They thought they'd lost him forever. A family had almost given up on finding their dog, who was stolen from their home a year ago.
Then last week, they saw video of the dog air on KSAT while the pup was recovering from a gunshot wound. The sweet reunion was an unexpected happy ending.
A big tail wag shows Tank the dog is overjoyed, and he's not the only one.
"Exciting," says 10-year-old Josh Calderon with a toothy grin, as he holds his dog close to him on the couch.
"Their dad passed away about a year and a half ago and he bought Tank and another dog before his accident, so getting Tank back... losing him to begin with was horrible," said Josh's mom, Michelle Miller.
Michelle said about a year ago, Tank was stolen from her family's backyard.
"Mad and sad," Josh remembers how he felt that day.
Hope was close to lost until last week, when Michelle and Josh saw a dog on KSAT News, being introduced as "Mr. Big." He'd been shot in the chest, and miraculously survived. The Animal Defense League was taking care of him.
"I jumped up from the couch and was like, that's Tank! That's him!" Michelle said. "My son was really, really attached to Tank. So to hear what he went through and to see him like that it was very emotional."
"When I first saw him on TV, I started crying," Josh said.
"I had to obviously go back and prove that he was my dog in order to get him back (and) make sure I had nothing to do with whatever had happened to him," Michelle said, explaining a detailed vetting process.
After sending in pictures of Tank as an adult and puppy, the family was finally allowed to bring home their missing piece. Michelle admits she has some anxiety about someone trying to take Tank again. She is now keeping him as an indoor dog and beefing up security around her home.
Tank's wounds have improved but he still has some recovery ahead, so they're watching him closely and making sure he's not being too energetic. Besides the medicine and gentle play, things are back to normal.
"Whenever he walked in, it's like he remembered this place. All the stuffed animals, that's his favorite thing. Probably his favorite time is dinner time. When we eat, he gets food from everybody's plate. He's very spoiled," Michelle laughed.
"He sleeps on my bed and sometimes I fall off," Josh laughed.
Josh always lets him stay, though. Every precious second with Tank is making up for lost time. A part of his father and a part of him has been restored.
Animal Care Services is still investigating Tank's abuse case. Anyone who has information about who stole him or shot him should call 210-207-4738.
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