AC Pup: There’s no place like home

I really like my job, but it has its challenges. One of them is searching for lost pets. Every time I find out a beloved family pet is lost, it breaks my heart. I do everything I can to unleash my army of Facebook friends to find him.

I have many sleepless nights, as I’m sure the parents of the missing pet do, until I know his whereabouts and that he’s safely home with his family. I’m always praying for a happy ending, because there are so many dangers on the street that an innocent lost pet may encounter on his own.

Such was the case for Flacki, the soon-to-be 15-year-old black-and-white shih tzu. Flacki is the much-adored fur child of Mr. and Mrs. Ken Gozur.

Flacki was born in Venezuela. He was the runt of the litter, weighing in at a slight 4 ounces. He was so small at birth that Mr. Ken and Ms. Ginger created an incubator to give him the best chance at life a 4-ounce newborn could have.

This tiny wisp of a puppy was appropriately named Flacquito, which means little skinny guy in Spanish. He was lovingly called Flacki for short.

Flacki not only survived his tiny birth weight, but he thrived with all the love, attention and affection shown to him by his family. In fact, he became the light of his parents’ eyes for almost 15 years with his adorable personality and his joyous spirit.

Then tragedy struck. On March 28, the night before Palm Sunday, Flacki and Mr. Ken were spending time outside. As fate would have it, Flacki didn’t have on his sweater or his collar. They had been removed while he was being brushed in preparation for his grooming appointment the following Monday.

Somehow that night, Flacki mysteriously disappeared. Imagine the horror of waking up on Palm Sunday realizing your furbaby was gone. Mr. Ken and Ms. Ginger were devastated.

They quickly enlisted the help of their entire neighborhood to launch a search, post flyers, flood Facebook and canvas the neighborhoods. But Flacki was nowhere to be found.

Mr. Ken and Ms. Ginger were sick with worry. They were distressed over the possibilities of what could happen to Flacki. Was he safe? Was he hurt? Was he scared? There were too many unanswered, disturbing questions.

They chased numerous false alarms of possible sightings. They routinely drove every street in the vicinity.

Unfortunately, days turned into weeks, almost five weeks to be exact, and fear turned into grief and guilt as the possibility of Flacki being gone forever was apparent.

They’d done all they knew to do. He’d been missing since March 28 so on Monday, April 20, Ms. Ginger threw away all Flacki’s vet records. It was time to let go. Or so she thought.

On Thursday, April 23, Ms. Ginger got a call from a friend saying a dog fitting Flacki’s description had been picked up by a good Samaritan on Vineville Avenue and turned it into the pound. Ms. Ginger frantically called the pound and asked them to send her photos. Her heart began racing with anticipation that, in spite of so many false alarms, this may really be Flacki.

She took one look at the photo and was almost certain it was Flacki. She raced to her vet to get new records and then to the pound. There she found a black and white shih tzu lying on the desk.

Their eyes met, yet there was no connection -- just a glazed expression. She called his name and nothing, as if he didn’t hear her. She got closer, picked him up, and that’s all it took. He knew that was his mom.

His tail started wagging uncontrollably. He was filled with emotion and couldn’t kiss her enough. He knew his life on the streets fending for himself was over. He was safe in his mom’s arms.

Flacki is in relatively good shape. Oddly, he became deaf during his five-week adventure, although the doctor suggests it may be the result of the trauma of being lost and hopefully is temporary.

Flacki hasn’t shared any details about what his life on the streets was like. He’s keeping that a secret. But we’ve all learned a valuable lesson through this ordeal: Never, ever give up on somebody you love.

Send questions to Visit or like his Facebook page.