“When he got lost, it was like I had lost a connection to my husband.”
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Stacey Staton Elam Dog
Credit: Pender County Animal Shelter

Chris isn't an ordinary name for a dog, but Stacey Staton Elam's poodle mix isn't an ordinary dog.

Elam named the small black pup after her husband who died in 2020. So, when Chris slipped off his leash while on a walk in Hayden, Alabama, back in February, she was devastated.

"Chris got me through the most horrible time in my life, and when he got lost, it was like I had lost a connection to my husband," Elam told McClatchy News.

She put up signs and searched for days, but weeks went by with no word. That is until March 14, on her 11th wedding anniversary, when she got an email from a microchip company. Chris had shown up 500 miles away at the Pender County Animal Shelter in rural Burgaw, North Carolina.

Elam told the shelter that it was a gift from her husband in the beyond, but there was a problem. She was on disability and unable to get to North Carolina.

That's when the shelter got to work.

"I was like you know what, we're a small shelter but we're mighty. We have 27 thousand followers on Facebook," Jewell Horton, director of Pender County Animal Shelter, told WECT.

"I said if you give me permission to put your story out there, I can just about promise you that our followers will give you a miracle."

As expected, the offers came flooding in. A groomer even gave Chris a bath and haircut. But Holly Stahl was the only person who volunteered to drive Chris all the way home to Elam.

"I can't imagine that feeling not knowing where one of my dogs is and there are so many people that go through that every day," Stahl told WECT. "It breaks my heart."

She made the nine-hour drive to bring Chris home and witnessed his reunion with Elam.   

Horton told McClatchy News that she hopes Chris' story encourages more people to microchip their pets.

"(Elam) would have never found her dog had it not been for that microchip," she said. "It's literally the difference in getting your pet back."

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For Elam, the microchip is only part of the story.  

"Being that all this happened around my wedding anniversary," she told McClatchy, "I know my husband Chris had a hand in all of this."