Back home: After disappearing years ago, Ocean Springs dog finds his people in Colorado

Published 7:00 am Saturday, November 7, 2015

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REUNITED: Couple reunites with dog nearly five years after he went missing. Submitted photo.

A pet owner’s worst nightmare is coming home to find their pet gone. That’s what happened to Jessica Jackson.

Nearly five years ago, Jackson, a Gulf Coast native, and her husband Dean, adopted a jack russell rat terrier mix from the Harrison County Humane Society. They named the 6-month-old puppy Cope, short for Copenhagen, Jackson said.

In January 2011, a couple of months after the adoption, Jackson arrived to her home in Ocean Springs to find Cope missing.

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“We have a doggy door in the house, so I assume he could’ve gotten out through there. But there were no holes under the backyard fence and he couldn’t have jumped the fence because it’s really high,” Jackson said.

For nearly three months, Jackson posted flyers around town and sought help from friends and family via Facebook to find her dog. At the time, Jackson and Dean also had a Chihuahua.

By mid-March, Jackson lost hope and gave up the search.

“My husband was gone for basic training in the military during this time. When he got back, I began to think that someone must’ve picked Cope up and gave him a home and that’s the story,” Jackson said.

Jackson and Dean then moved to Colorado where Dean was stationed at Fort Carson.

Five years later, Jackson got a call she never thought she would receive. A representative from Pet Alert, an emergency information system, told Jackson that they found her dog and he’s being housed at the Pearl River County SPCA.

Rhonda Furby, PRCSPCA director of community outreach, said a family surrendered Cope to the shelter in October.

“The owner that had the dog all these years, who named him Beau, went to a nursing home, so the family members came in and surrendered the pet to the shelter,” Furby said.

They were able to find the original owner after scanning Cope for a microchip.

“I’m glad I never changed my phone number,” Jackson said.

Jackson recalled how emotional she felt when she reunited with Cope for the first time at an airport in Colorado. Jackson said they arrived at the airport an hour earlier before the flight was supposed to arrive because they were so excited.

“When I peeked around the corner, I started crying after I saw him in the carrier,” Jackson said. “His tail was wagging, he remembered us and I was like I can’t wait to go home and be with him.”

Over the years, Jackson and Dean have tried to have a child, but fertility issues have hindered the process. While Jackson hopes to have children someday, she’s happy being a mother to Cope, their bulldog and her foster child.

Jackson said she considers herself an animal lover and her dogs “my children.”

Now, Cope spends his days at home with his family.

“He’s attached to the hip. He doesn’t want to go to backyard too much, he wants to be walked and wants to lie next to me on the chair and gets excited when my husband comes home from work,” Jackson said.

Jackson describes Cope as “mellow, loving, awesome and resilient.”

The happy ending wouldn’t have been possible without the man who took her dog in years ago, Jackson said.

“I’d like to thank him because not many people would do that. We sometimes call Cope Beau because he was used to that name for many years,” Jackson said.

Furby said it’s important for pet owners to get their pet’s microchipped in case they go missing. If someone does find a stray dog, Furby advises people to “bring the pet in to a shelter and have it checked for a microchip because their owner is probably grieving for its pet.”

On Nov. 14, the Pearl River County SPCA is hosting a shot clinic in Picayune at Jack Reed Park from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The annual event will offer a variety of services, including microchipping.

While Jackson lived out a pet owner’s worst nightmare, she’s happy to have Cope back home safe and sound.