Would Your Dog Remember You After 10 Years?

Mar 3, 2018
Originally published on March 3, 2018 5:09 pm

Would your dog remember you after 10 years away?

Carly Suierveld thinks so. She just saw her dog Abby for the first time in a decade.

"It's quite a journey, it was so great seeing her again," Suierveld tells NPR's Scott Simon. "She barked at me at first, but now she's cuddling up and kind of seeming to remember who I am."

Abby, a female black Lab mix, was lost from the Suierveld family's home in Apollo, Pa., 10 years ago. Carly was 12 at the time.

"I was really devastated and I was really invested in trying to find her back," she says. "So we were putting flyers up all over the neighborhood. We live in a rural area, so we tried our best to get out and reach everyone."

But they couldn't find her and had to declare her deceased.

Then one day, Suierveld's mother, Debra, got a call from an animal shelter. "They said, 'We have your dog,' " Debra told Scott Simon last month. "And I said, 'That's impossible.' "

But it was Abby — she had a microchip identifying her.

Debra called Carly to tell her the news. "I was very confused," Carly says. "It had been a while since I'd heard the name Abby."

Carly says her mother "explained the story about how they found her a couple towns over and I was just in shock. And I really wanted to be able to get home that weekend," Carly says — but she is in school at Miami University in Ohio and has two jobs.

She finally made it home just over a week ago to see Abby.

So, does Abby really remember her?

"I would like to think so — I mean, she stayed with me for basically the rest of the night," Carly says. "So I'm going to choose that thought."

As for where Abby was these past 10 years, the family doesn't know.

"Ten years of just being off and not knowing where she was, it's just really kind of driving me crazy," Carly says. If Abby could talk, "I'm sure she would have some great stories to tell."

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SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

A few weeks ago we spoke, with Debra Suierveld about her amazing dog, Abby. Abby went missing from her Apollo, Penn., home 10 years ago. A few weeks ago, she was found in an animal shelter. They checked her for a microchip, and Abby was reunited with the Suierveld family after 10 years. Debra's daughter, Carly, had a special bond with Abby. Last Friday, she came home from college and was reunited with her long-lost black lab mix. Carly Suierveld joins us now. Thanks so much for being with us.

CARLY SUIERVELD: Hi. Thank you for having me.

SIMON: Abby's back. What's that like?

SUIERVELD: Oh, it's quite a journey. It was so great seeing her again. She barked me at first. But now she's cuddling up and kind of seeming to remember who I am (laughter).

SIMON: Aww. She seems to remember who you are. What do you remember of her when - you must have been just a child.

SUIERVELD: Things are a little different now. She looks a lot bigger, obviously. But she's kept a lot of the same habits, which is crazy. She's still a great listener and just altogether such a sweet, sweet dog.

SIMON: How old were you when Abby went missing?

SUIERVELD: I was 12.

SIMON: That must have been a heartache for you.

SUIERVELD: Yeah. I was really devastated. And I was really invested in trying to find her back. So we were putting flyers up all over the neighborhood. And we live in a rural area. So we tried our best to, like, get out and reach everyone. But it didn't end up working out immediately. But, hey, 10 years is - I'll wait.

(LAUGHTER)

SIMON: What did you think when your mother called you up and said Abby's back?

SUIERVELD: Honestly, I was very confused for a moment.

(LAUGHTER)

SIMON: Yeah, I'll bet.

SUIERVELD: It had been a while since I heard the name Abby. And she kind of chose to mess with me because she called me and said, hey, I'm visiting Abby after work.

SIMON: Oh.

SUIERVELD: And there's not a distinguishable Abby in our life. So I was like, our old neighbor? And she said, no, your dog. And I was just in shock.

SIMON: You must have thought your mother was - something had happened to her, right?

SUIERVELD: (Laughter) Yeah.

SIMON: She got bonked on the head by a can of corn or something.

SUIERVELD: I was curious. I was like, Mom, you know it's 2018, right? But then she explained the story about how they found her a couple towns over. And I was just in shock. I really wanted to be able to get home that weekend. But with having two jobs out in Ohio and then also school, I couldn't really swing canceling everything.

SIMON: Yeah.

SUIERVELD: But I'm happy to be home and see her now.

SIMON: Do you suppose Abby, within a few minutes, knew who you were? You were the little girl she remembered?

SUIERVELD: I would like to think so. I mean, she stayed with me for basically the rest of the night. So I'm going to choose that thought. I mean, it could just be because she's one of the sweetest dogs on Earth. But I like to think that she kind of knows who I am.

SIMON: Do you look at Abby and kind of wish she could tell you what happened?

SUIERVELD: Oh, absolutely (laughter). Ten years of just being off and not knowing where she was - it's really kind of driving me crazy. Yeah. I'm sure she would have some great stories to tell.

SIMON: Carly Suierveld in Apollo, Penn., thanks so much.

SUIERVELD: Thank you.

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