Enquirer Herald

Chip brings dog home

After three years, three names and 358 miles, Cooper the dog is finally home.

Cooper, a beagle owned by Clover resident Dana Shaw, recently came back to the Shaw family after a three-year absence that took the dog from Charlotte to Virginia.

Shaw said she is thrilled to have her dog back.

"It's been amazing," Shaw said last week. "Because I never thought I'd see the dog again. I assumed she was dead, or that somebody had taken her and I was never going to get her back."

Shaw was living in Charlotte when Cooper -- who had a habit of escaping for days at a time -- ran away and disappeared. Cooper was picked up by a surrogate family at Charlotte's Northlake Mall and kept for a year.

Cooper then moved to Virginia with the daughter of the woman who had found the beagle in Charlotte. But Cooper escaped again. When someone found her, they discovered that the dog carried a microchip that enabled her to be traced back to Shaw.

Dr. Gretchen Love, Cooper's current veterinarian at Palmetto Veterinary Medicine, said Shaw would never have been able to get Cooper back without the microchip.

"There's no way she would've got the pet back," Love said. "It was just too far away."

Before she began moving around, Cooper lived for four years with Shaw, her two children and a miniature doberman pincher. In 2001, Shaw and her husband, Stephen, adopted the dog as she was being taken to the pound from the back of a pickup truck.

Never complacent, Cooper was always in search of something. Shaw said the dog would often pick up a scent and disappear from home for days on end. One time, the disappearing act lasted longer and the Shaw family became worried.

They searched for her at the local pound and posted pictures of Cooper online with no success. Shaw expected to hear a howl in the night or paws at the front door as Cooper returned, but that never happened.

Cooper was gone. Shaw said she doesn't know which member of her family took Cooper's disappearance harder.

"I wasn't sure if I, my 10-year-old daughter, Taylor, or my (other) dog was more upset," she said. "The miniature pincher was upset forever because they kind of grew together."

They all had known Cooper was one to wander.

When they lived in Charlotte, Cooper repeatedly jumped over or dug under the family's fence. The Shaws tried invisible fencing, but Cooper ran through it, zapping herself in the process.

When she returned home, however, Cooper was wily enough to howl for her family instead of running back through the invisible fencing and taking a second zap.

The Shaws' search for Cooper continued as three years passed. The family continued to make posts online, updating their address when they moved to Clover six months ago.

Kari Davenport met up with Cooper in Virginia, when the beagle got back to her old tricks, disappearing from the family that had taken her there.

The dog ran in front of Davenport's car, and she lured it home with dog food.

Davenport had Cooper scanned to see if she carried a microchip that could trace her owner. Davenport was shocked when the microchip showed that the owners lived in South Carolina.

"I thought, 'My, you've came a long way,'" Davenport said. "I wondered how the dog got from point A to point B."

Davenport called Shaw and told her that she had found Cooper. In disarray, Shaw broke down crying.

There was just one obstacle for Shaw. Her dog was seven hours away, in Portsmouth, Va. Shaw's mother-in-law, Brigitte Henderson, and her two daughters made the trek.

During their trip, Davenport called and told them that a woman had called the Portsmouth Humane Society looking for a beagle named Moxy -- the name Cooper had received from her second family. Cooper had later been named "Ella" by Davenport because of her dumbo-like ears.

Both families were present when Cooper was returned to the Shaws.

"I was really afraid that she wouldn't remember us," Shaw said, referring to the dog. "But the second we hit the door and started calling her Cooper, she came right to us."

Shaw was thankful for the return of her dog. Cooper, she said, is "like my kid."