With smiles, tears of joy, and lots of licking, a Yorkshire terrier picked up as a stray in Iowa was reunited today with the 14-year-old girl from whom he was stolen in 2012, 1,000 miles away in New Orleans. Karisa Lambert was in tears when an animal control worker from Cedar Rapids handed the little brown dog to her at New Orleans' airport as TV cameras rolled and bystanders took cellphone videos. "I'm so very excited to have Sam back," she said. Dad Thomas Lambert said his brother gave Sam to Karisa as a birthday present. The dog disappeared in June or July 2012 from their backyard, which is surrounded by woods in a rural part of the New Orleans suburb of Bridge City. "We had just given him up for dead," he said.
Sam was found April 14, wandering around an elementary school, according to a press release from the city of Cedar Rapids. His microchip implant enabled animal control officers to identify and reach the Lamberts. United Airlines donated a first-class seat for animal control specialist Michelle Johnson to fly to New Orleans and deliver Sam. "This just makes all of us feel really, really happy—that we can make this miracle come true for this family and their little dog," said an animal control official. The Lamberts and several friends were waiting at the gate. "He looks the same as he did when he disappeared three years ago," mom Donnille Lambert said. Sam didn't make a sound. He just wagged his tail and licked anyone in reach. (Read more uplifting news stories.)