On Friday, Dec. 13, 2013, the Gerstein family's dog, Bella, went missing after Bill Gerstein let her out outside his law office in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Almost exactly three years later, she showed back up—1,200 miles away, in New Jersey. "She would go out back and then come back in when she was done outside, and that day, I was distracted," Gerstein tells NorthJersey.com. By the time he realized the Maltese Pomeranian mix never came back inside, she was gone, notes the Sun-Sentinel. He and his family mounted an extensive search for her, PIX11 reports. Then, on Nov. 22, he got a call from the pet recovery service associated with the microchip Bella had implanted: The dog had been found wandering the streets of Paterson, NJ, and had been brought to a shelter.
Gerstein flew to New Jersey immediately, where Bella wagged her tail when she saw him. "She definitely remembered me," he says. The next day, they flew home. "She wouldn't stop kissing me, and she's not a big kisser," says Gerstein's wife, Dori. A veterinarian found the dog to be in good health. It's not clear how she ended up in New Jersey, but the Gersteins have heard from a family in the state with whom Bella briefly lived: Someone gave the dog to the family in January, but she later escaped under a fence. The family realized who the dog was after finding a Facebook page about Bella. One thing is clear: Gerstein says he will now use a leash when letting his dogs do their business.