June Rountree was frantic when her dog, Abby, went missing, leaving behind just her collar and leash tied to a ground stake. For days, June and her husband searched for their beloved pet, but she was nowhere to be seen.
The Rountrees started losing hope. But they couldn’t have anticipated getting their very own holiday miracle three weeks later: incredibly, the lost dog walked into Walmart and greeted June at her register during her shift at work.
The 60-year-old cashier was just working her usual shift on Nov. 28, manning her register, when she heard a commotion and glanced up. To her astonishment and delight, she saw her 4-year-old black-and-white dog near the ice machine.
“I said, ‘It can’t be,’” June recounted.
People were trying to catch the dog, but as soon as Abby heard June’s voice, she came running over.
“I called her name and she came to me,” June told The Washington Post. “I bent over and hugged her. I completely lost it then. I couldn’t speak. I was in complete shock and just couldn’t believe it.”
The Rountrees knew Abby was smart, but they had no idea how the dog knew where June worked.
“Never in a million years did I think she would show up at Walmart,” an amazed June said. “How she knew I worked there, I do not know.”
June had worked at the Walmart 1.5 miles from her home for the past 10 years. She had never brought Abby inside the store, though she says she had walked her past the parking lot and the woods behind the store several times in the past.
A 42-year-old customer service associate, Danielle Robinette, recalled the confusion surrounding the event.
“I was like, ‘What in the world is happening?’” Danielle said. “I’m a huge animal lover, so I just followed her, and she ran up to register No. 6.”
Danielle was surprised when her co-worker bent over and hugged the dog for several long minutes but soon learned that it was June’s missing pet.
“She looked up with tears streaming down her face and said: ‘This is Abby. She’s been missing for three weeks,’” Danielle remembers. “I was just floored.”
June was left speechless, just grateful to see her beloved companion once again.
“I can’t express the feeling,” Rountree said. “All these people were there around the dog and I couldn’t even talk to them.”
Danielle snapped a photo of the tearful reunion and shared them on Facebook, where the pictures went viral with over 12,000 shares.
“I tell you what,” Danielle wrote. “Abby is one smart girl she came to her [mommy’s] work to find her!! I’m so glad she found you Mrs June!! Such a wonderful story I just had to share.”
June said she is grateful that her dog appears to have been well fed during her three-week sojourn.
“I want to thank whoever she came upon that gave her something to eat,” said the grateful dog mom.
Clive Wynne, director of the Canine Science Collaboration at Arizona State University, said it is totally plausible that a dog could find its owner at work.
“I suspect that the dog was roaming around somewhere at random until it stumbled upon a familiar location,” he said. “A dog’s navigation isn’t perfect, but it does recognize certain important, large landmarks.”
Given Abby’s walks near June’s place of work, it seems a logical possibility she might explore the familiar area in an effort to reorient herself and find home.
“Dogs wander off in the heat of the moment—whether they spot a squirrel or food,” Wynne added. “But they have a tremendous connection and powerful emotional bond with their people.”
Later that night, June brought her pet home for a happy reunion with her fur sister, Coco, who was heartbroken when Abby went missing. Then they fed Abby a hearty meal, and the little adventurer curled up on her dog bed for a nice long nap.
“It really is just unbelievable,” June said. “It’s like a dream. You can’t make this stuff up.”