Pets are undoubtedly family, and every pet owner fears the day they might lose their beloved animal and return home to an empty house or backyard.
For dog lover Louise Friedlander this became a heartbreaking reality on Father’s Day, 2009. However, she could have never guessed how her tiny Yorkie’s story would end so many years later…
Back in 2009, Louise Friedlander was walking along Fort Myers Beach in Florida without a care in the world. She thought her tiny Yorkshire terriers were safe and sound back home until she returned to a heartbreaking scene.
Friedlander returned to her North Naples home to find someone had left a gate open and quickly started looking for Tessa, who wore a collar with Friedlander’s contact information. Soon, she was leading search parties and canvassing around neighborhoods in the area…
Unfortunately, Tessa didn’t return back to them. Friedlander was devastated, especially because the dog was wearing identification with her information. “I never thought she would come back,” she said. Then after eight long years, Friedlander’s phone rang.
According to Friedlander, at 3 a.m. on June 30 she received a call from the Lee County animal control officer who said a dog was seen spotted wandering around near a Cape Coral Fire Department station who looked exactly like Tessa. Finally, they would be reunited…
Tessa was a special dog and Louise had always felt she would be able to fend for herself. Ten years ago, a breeder brought an entire litter of Yorkshire terrier pups over to Friedlander’s house where she picked out two dogs: Tessa and her brother Ted.
Friedlander instantly fell in love with her adorable new furry friends, especially Tessa. “She loved every dog. She has an aura where other dogs are friendly to her,” Friedlander said. “She has no fear of other dogs or people, and they don’t seem to attack her.” There was something very unique about tiny Tessa — and everyone could see it…
Tessa and Ted were quite the dynamic duo but they weren’t the only Yorkies in the Friedlander household. Louise also had a third dog named Lovey, who sadly was stung by a bee and later died from the shock long after Tessa had disappeared.
After Tessa vanished, Friedlander also got another Yorkie who she named Nick, to keep Lovey and Ted company. And once Lovey passed away from her accident, Friedlander went back to her Yorkshire terrier breeder and brought home a pup named Mia…
There was never a time that Friedlander didn’t have multiple tiny dogs around, but she never forgot about her special Tessa. Finally, on June 23, 2017, Friedlander had to make the difficult decision to put down Ted because of his seizures.
That was when she decided she was done with adopting new pooches. “After Ted passed away, I made up my mind that I wasn’t going to get any more dogs,” Friedlander said. “That was it.” No one could replace the ones she had lost…
It Can’t Be…
She had no idea that just one week after losing her beloved Ted, she would receive a phone call about his long lost sister. After so many years, she had never expected Tessa to be found. Where could she have been all this time?
After receiving the late night phone call about her pooch’s return, Friedlander jumped right in her car and drove to Lee County Domestic Animal Services. She needed to find out the truth for herself…
A Mix Up?
The shelter staff brought Friedlander to a crate where they were holding the Tessa lookalike. Only she could tell for sure if it was her lost Yorkshire terrier. After all, it was very much possible that they had just bothered the grieving pet parent with a terrible mistake.
“I said, ‘Tessa, it’s Mama!’ She jumped up on the cage and she wagged her tail and licked my hand and she smiled, like a Pepsodent smile…”, Friedlander said. Even though she had been away for eight long years, she still remembered her owner…
All Tessa needed was a visit with a veterinarian to make sure she had all of her shots and treat a mouth and ear infection. Given her situation, Tessa was remarkably healthy for a 10-year-old dog who had been out on her own for so long. However, the biggest test of all would be when Tessa finally returned with Friedlander to her North Naples home.
While Tessa was gone, Friedlander went through multiple dogs and now she had two Yorkshire terriers the 10-year-old had never met. “I thought I was going to have World War III, but it’s been just fine,” she said. Remarkably, Tessa even seemed to remember Friedlander’s home, too…
Right At Home
“It was really bizarre, because I put her out in the courtyard and it was like she recognized it. She checked everything out,” Friedlander said. “When she walked into my bedroom, I have this little plastic step stool for them to get onto my bed; at that point she just put her paws on it. She knew what it was for.”
Since Tessa’s return after her long journey home, she has really shown her age, losing some weight, needing some warts removed, and having 17 teeth pulled due to her infection. However, Friedlander is just happy to have Tessa back with her and be the one to take care of her in her old age…
“I love my kids. I don’t have children, so these are my kids,” she said. “Tessa is back and, oh my gosh, she has a very domineering personality. She’s really a character, but they all get along.” Louise Friedlander now hopes her dog’s story will encourage other pet parents to microchip their animals. Since Friedlander had Tessa chipped as a puppy, it was the only way they could tell for sure she was the dog lost so many years ago.
“The chip is really important, because I knew I would have gotten her back at some point,” she said. “But eight years later — nobody’s ever heard of that.” Tessa is happily adjusting to life with 7-year-old Nick and 5-year-old Mia, the new Yorkies of the house, but she only wishes Ted had gotten the chance to be reunited with his sister. “I truly believe that it was a miracle and that Ted brought her back,” Friedlander said.