When the Lalji family lost their two Shih Tzus in 2009, they were devastated. The family searched everywhere near their home in Camarillo, Calif., for their missing pups, but to no avail. They posted signs around the town and checked area animal shelters, but after years of looking, the Zahur and Ashifa Lalji thought they would never see Mylo or London again.
Nine months ago, the family decided to move back to Ashifa’s hometown of London, England. There, out of the blue, Zahur and Ashifa’s young son, Zahan, began talking about his long lost Shih Tzus. Mylo and London disappeared when Zahan was only 1-year-old, so Zahur and Ashifa were shocked.
“My son came home from school one day and said, ‘When I get bigger and become Superman, I’m going to fly and find my dogs,” Ashifa says.
By some twist of fate, the Laljis returned to Camarillo at the end of April for a friend’s wedding. That’s when they received some surprising news.
Someone had found a white and tan Shih Tzu walking along the side of a road in Oxnard, California. The kind person scooped up the shaggy dog and brought him to the Ventura County Animal Shelter. After scanning for a microchip, the shelter staff discovered that the mystery dog was London Lalji, and that he had been missing for three years.
When shelter staff tried the phone numbers associated with London’s microchip, both had been disconnected when the Laljis moved out of the country. Luckily, Zahur and Ashifa decided to list London’s veterinarian, Dr. Christopher Frier of the Camino Animal Clinic, as an emergency contact. Frier and the Lalji family shared a mutual friend, and that friend was able to get in touch with Zahur’s mother, Parvish Lalji. Parvish broke the good news that evening.
“We got to the shelter first thing in the morning, and we walked into the room,” Ashifa explains, “and he just went crazy, barking and jumping up and down.” The whole family, London included, were ecstatic to be reunited once again.
“There were tears everywhere. It’s definitely a miracle that we got him back,” Ashifa adds.
Though London was excited to see his family again, the little dog was in need of some expensive medical care. Inspired by the Lalji’s story, the shelter veterinarian offered to treat London’s leg wound free of charge. When the family brought London to Camino Animal Clinic that afternoon, Dr. Frier treated London for an ear infection, parasites, and fleas.
Frier was overjoyed that London finally came home to the Laljis. “I told them it was one of the nicest stories I’d ever heard about a dog,” Frier says, who refused payment for treating London.
The Laljis now plan to bring London to his namesake – London, England – as soon as possible. England requires a series of vaccinations and a six-month waiting period before the Shih Tzu will be allowed in the country. In the meantime, the dog will stay with a family friend.
“At the end of the day, my dogs are like my children,” Zahur Lalji explains. “It’s going to be such a good feeling to bring London back home.”
The Laljis are still holding out home that Mylo, who is still missing, will turn up. The now 5-year-old Shih Tzu is white and tan with a black marking around one eye. Anyone with any information is asked to please contact the Ventura County Animal Shelter.