Almost six years ago, Maisy the Beagle followed April and Chad Helland’s kids out into the woods near her home in Hardin Valley, Tennessee. The Hellands’ boys came home that day — but little Maisy didn’t. The family searched high and low for Maisy, but with no luck.
“We started looking around the woods, putting up flyers, asking the mail lady ‘can you watch out for a dog,” April and Chad’s youngest son Parker, now 10 years old, remembers. “I just prayed all night, ‘God please bring her back.’ I just missed her so much.”
Losing Maisy took a toll on each of the Hellands.
“It was like losing a member of the family,” remembers Chad Helland. “When we put the flyers up looking for her, that’s what we put, lost family member.”
As the days turned into weeks with no sign of Maisy’s whereabouts, the Hellands started to think the worst. The family imagined every possible scenario, thinking if they’d only done something differently before Maisy’s disappearance, their beloved dog might never have wandered off.
“We felt guilty because we didn’t do a better job of keeping track of her,” April told the Times Free Press Wednesday.
As the years went by, the Hellands never forgot about Maisy. But eventually they did adopt another Beagle, Cooper — but never as a replacement for the dog they lost.
Then, after nearly six years, Chad Helland received the phone call of a lifetime. Staff at the Young Williams Animal Center in nearby Knoxville, Tenn., broke the news that Maisy had been found thanks to a microchip and contact information the Hellands made sure to keep current — just in case. Because of Maisy’s microchip, rescuers knew exactly who to call.
“It was probably the most shocking phone call I’ve ever gotten in my life,” says Chad.
Young Williams Animal Center CEO Jeff Ashin was delighted when he heard the Hellands were on their way to reclaim Maisy.
“It’s one of those things that just worked out perfectly,” Ashin says. “It’s the way it’s supposed to work.”
Tuesday afternoon, the Hellands arrived at the shelter for a reunion six years in the making.
“When I saw her it was like everything just flooded back at once,” says April. “It was like, that’s her! At first you kind of wonder are they right? Maybe this is an accident, maybe they made a mistake? But it wasn’t. It was just so overwhelmingly emotional for me.”
Even though Maisy, now 12-years-old, had been away for so long, she is still the same sweet pup.
“She still does it, when you pick her up, she’ll just lay back like this and be so sweet,” April tells WBIR of Maisy, who still enjoys laying her head on April’s shoulder all these years later.
Young Williams Animal Center personnel have no idea where the dog was while she went missing, but guess she may have been taken in by another family.
The Hellands and the Young Williams Animal Center hope Maisy’s story will serve as a reminder to pet owners everywhere about the importance of microchips.