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This pooch, missing for years, was found an awful long way from home

Lilly the Shih Tzu has been reunited with her owners.

Lilly the Shih Tzu Source: AP Photo/David Zalubowski

IT’S A DENVER man’s American dream: Getting back the dog that vanished four years ago on the Fourth of July.

Kelly Booker’s 9-year-old Shih Tzu, Lilly, was found last month wandering the streets more than 1,500 kilometres away in Elgin, Illinois, suffering from a severe infection and exposure. Her nails grew long, and people who found her said she was in bad shape.

Booker said his pet disappeared July 4, 2011, when he put her in the backyard as he headed to a fireworks show. He does not know if Lilly got frightened by the explosions and ran away or was stolen.

Kelly, Azzah Booker, Lilly the Shih Tzu Source: AP Photo/David Zalubowski

“Kids were outside popping fireworks. We went looking for her and she was gone,” Booker said.

It was like a child that went missing.

On Thursday, he and his 10-year-old son picked up Lilly at Denver’s airport. The dog wagged its tail and seemed to immediately recognize the two, who cradled her and repeatedly asked “Where have you been, Lilly? Where have you been?”.

Volunteers at the Almost Home Foundation rescued Lilly and nursed her back to health.

Kelly Booker, Lilly the Shih Tzu Source: AP Photo/David Zalubowski

 

She was identified by a microchip with her owner’s contact information, and Booker was notified.

Booker said he doesn’t know how Lilly wound up in Illinois.

Chuck Hanson, spokesman for the Almost Home Foundation, said Lilly got a big send-off in Illinois before she was sent home.

“She’s getting a lot of attention. She even had her own press conference before she left,” Hanson said.

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