Jayne Nelson is a sucker for happy endings, and being in her line of work, she’s often moved to tears when pets and their humans are reunited.
But a reunion at the Langley Animal Protection Society (LAPS) this week had her particularly ecstatic and emotional.
Turns out it was a reunion years in the making.
Tweak is a “gorgeous,” 16-year-old tabby who was brought into LAPS as a stray a couple of weeks ago, Nelson explained.
“She disappeared from her home [a decade ago] during a move, leaving her owner Tamara distraught,” elaborated Nelson, executive director for the Aldergrove-based animal shelter.
After searching far and wide for her, Tamara Deschene didn’t think she would ever see her “fur baby” again.
“I honestly thought she was gone. Like gone, gone,” she added.
She’d had Tweak since she was a kitten.
“Ten long years went by, and Tweak managed to find her way to us [LAPS],” Nelson explained, noting that an Aldergrove resident noticed the cat had been left behind after neighbours moved away about a month earlier. When the cat showed up in their garage, seeking shelter, they decided to take her to the Patti Dale Animal Shelter.
The cat was brought into the shelter on March 12. During a vet check, it was determined she was about six years old and in good health. Turns out she’s much older than that, but still in very good shape, Deschene said.
Staff made several failed attempts to read a faded tattooed, and after a bit of searching finally managed to trace ownership back to Deschene’s grandparent, whose number was used as the contact when Tweak was originally tattooed and spayed.
Deschene was only a teenager when the cat went missing. She believes she was when the cat bolted when the family’s was packing up to move from Aldergrove to Brookswood.
“I guess she was scared.”
Learning her cat had been found, the shell-shocked owner “immediately rushed to the shelter to be reunited with her long-lost friend,” Nelson said.
Tweak was reportedly very affectionate and happy to see Deschene, all purrs and drooling up a storm.
“I felt awful that she was alive all this time and I didn’t know,” she said. “I felt like she recognized me… And I’ve just been beaming from ear to ear.”
Staff were pretty excited, as well – even a few actually tears were shed, admitted Nelson.
Tweak has now returned home to live with Deschene, albeit in a new place and with some new family members. She’s settling in well to life with Deschene, her boyfriend of five years Jake Bell-Hall, and their three other cats (two boys Hades and Zeus, as well as another female named Aries).
“I’m a serious cat woman,” Deschene joked, noting the introduction is being done slowly to help ensure a safe adjustment. “Tweak is been a wonderful addition to our crew.”
“I think she’s fitting in well,” added the 28-year-old cat lover. “I’m thrilled. It’s like a flash from the past, in a good way.”
Permanent markings key to reunion
“We are so excited to have been a part of this happy story, and it is a great example of how important it is to tattoo or microchip your pet,” Nelson said.
She pointed to a handful of reunions in recent months that are directly attributed to tattoos or microchips.
It was microchip in a recovered border collie named Ladybug that a few weeks ago led to a reunion with her owner after three years.
“That one had everyone crying,” said Nelson. “He was crying. We were crying.”
LAPS was involved in another odd reunion back in February, when an Alberta cat – lost in Hope last summer during a move – found its way to Langley and was ultimately reunited with her Vancouver Island family.
Then, back in December, a dog named Frankie was found wandering in Langley and reunited with his family in Alberta.
There have been a few other, maybe not as unique, reunions in the past few months, and it helps drive home the message, Nelson said.
“We really, really strongly encourage people to get permanent ID. Tattoos are great. Microchips are better. And I guess both tattoos and microchips are the very best option.”