MOHICANVILLE, Ohio (WJW) -- A Northeast Ohio man, whose dog disappeared five months ago, says he considers it a Christmas miracle that the puppy has been safely returned home to him.
Mark Krichbaum says he now keeps a tight grip on his dog's leash and with good reason. I
In July, the silver Labrador retriever named Lucy was playing with another dog on Krichbaum's farm in Ashland County when she vanished, apparently frightened by the sound of gunfire from a neighboring property.
“She's just a pup, five months old at the time, and without the other dog there she didn't know where she was at, and how to take care of herself or anything,” said Krichbaum.
He spent the next couple of weeks searching for Lucy, and asked for help on Facebook, but as the days turned into months, there was no sign of the puppy. “I had kind of given up hope a little bit and I talked about getting another dog in the spring, but I always hung on to that hope,” he said.
Unbeknownst to Krichbaum, 24-year-old Lauren Prater, a veterinary assistant from Huron, who has her own silver lab named Bo, came across Lucy later in the summer, standing in the middle of a road near Mohican State Park.
“Working with animals my whole life, you know, I just felt like I obviously just can't leave her out there, so we opened up the car door and she jumped in like she already knew us,” said Prater.
For the next couple of months, Prater scoured social media, hoping to identify Lucy's rightful owner, and then just before Christmas, she found a page that included Mark Krichbaum's plea for help to find his missing puppy. She reached out to Krichbaum, and they were able to confirm that Lauren had indeed found long-lost Lucy.
Krichbaum told FOX 8, “I was ecstatic; I mean, I was overjoyed. I was so surprised. You hear about this stuff all the time; you never expect it's going to happen to you.”
Lauren Prater added, “Oh, it definitely is a Christmas miracle. It's like this is something you see on maybe a Lifetime movie about somebody reuniting with their dog.”
No one is quite sure where Lucy ended up after she initially disappeared, but Mark Krichbaum and Lauren Prater are convinced she came across some other animal lovers, who made sure she had food and shelter.
Krichbaum says he considers himself extremely fortunate that it was Lauren Prater who found Lucy in the road that day, and Lauren says she was going to keep looking until the puppy was back home. “It just makes me feel really good because I know that if any of my dogs had gone missing, I would be absolutely heartbroken and I would want somebody to do the same for me,” she said.