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A Christmas miracle: Service dog who went missing three years ago finally reunites with her owners

When Debra Mejeur’s emotional pet support dog, Lola, went missing during a family vacation in Illinois, her world turned upside down.

But in what can only be described as a Christmas miracle, Debra and her husband Steve were recently reunited with their beloved black Lab mix three years after they were separated!

In October 2017, Debra and Steve visited a friend in Elk Grove Village, Illinois, together with then 5-year-old Lola. During their stay, the pup somehow managed to escape from the fenced-in chain-link backyard of their friend’s home. Debra found the behavior really strange, considering that the dog had a very calm demeanor and had never run away before.

Lola was more than just a pet to the couple; she was also Debra’s emotional pet support dog. Debra suffers from epilepsy with grand mal seizures, and whenever she has an attack, Lola will be there by her side to help her after the seizures would occur.

“I went through so many different emotions when I found out [Lola was missing],” she told CBS News in an email. “I immediately started walking around the neighborhood and yelling out her name.”

The couple did everything they could to find Lola and stayed in Illinois for the night to look for her. Debra also joined every Facebook group she could find in the community to help locate her precious pup.

Sadly, they weren’t able to find her. They went home the next day, but Debra just couldn’t bear the thought of Lola gone, so she hopped on a bus going back to Illinois the day after. She stayed at a friend’s place for a week to search for the dog and recruited volunteers to help her.

Debra and Steve spent about a month looking for Lola and making the three-hour trip from their home every weekend. Debra constantly communicated with the volunteers on the ground and posted on Facebook groups for two years, trying to get any leads about where the dog might be.

Unfortunately, despite all the effort and sacrifices made, Lola was nowhere to be found.

But on December 3, Debra received a message she thought she would never get. The SMS said her emotional pet support dog had been found and that she should call the Dupage County Animal Control in Illinois.

Debra recounted the moment in an interview with CBS News.

“I immediately called the shelter and asked ‘By chance, do you have a female black lab named Lola there?’ The lady on the phone quickly responded with ‘Are you Debra?’ I started shaking and crying I couldn’t stay still. I was pacing back and forth the whole time. I was overwhelmed by so many emotions. I was in disbelief and shock because it’s been 3 years. I was relieved that she was finally safe.”

Although she didn’t have a home for three years, Lola was lucky because she didn’t have to survive alone. A couple who lived about 10 miles away from where she disappeared had been feeding her for two-and-a-half years. However, Lola never allowed them to get close to her. Every time they did, she would run into the nearby woods.

But on December 3, they were finally able to capture the elusive animal.

Luckily, Lola had a microchip, so the county was able to easily track the Mejeurs down. And just two days later, the trio was reunited!

“It took her a little time to recognize me,” Debra recalled of the happy moment. “When she finally came up to me, she did a small sniff, licked my forehead and that’s when she knew. Her tail started wagging and she turned into an excited dog! She heard my husband laughing from about 20-30 feet behind us and ran right to him without any hesitation.”

Debra said Lola’s personality hasn’t changed one bit. She even remembers her commands!

However, the years away from home impacted her physically. Lola, who is now 8, has lost 10 pounds, was diagnosed with Lyme disease, and had some dental issues. Nevertheless, Steve and Debra are glad that she’s back with them now and are “over the moon and forever grateful to the couple that looked after her.”

Debra has a new service dog named Maddox, and they plan to retire Lola of her service dog duties so they can just spoil her from here on out.

Witness Lola’s happy reunion with her owners in the video below. Reunion stories are really the best! Don’t forget to share this with your friends and family.

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Debra Mejeur

Tuesday 22nd of December 2020

Hi. Thank you for sharing our story! One correction: Lola wasn't my emotional support dog. She was my seizure response service dog. But she is happy to be home and doing well. -Debra Mejeur

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