A couple and two dogs pose on a beach
The Nolen family of California, including Labradors Spirit and Serene, is together again. Spirit, right, got lost in the snow last year but was identified and returned home thanks to an up-to-date microchip. Photo courtesy of Sherry Nolen

Spirit’s family, Sherry and Mike Nolen, first called Fresno Humane Animal Services (FHAS) on Jan. 23, 2016, distraught that one of their sweet chocolate Labradors was lost after playing in the snow in the Shaver Lake area of California.  

The family combed fresh snowy paw-print trails and called every homeowner and weekend renter in the small mountain neighborhood. They posted signs at snow parks, resorts and mountain businesses. Sherry went weekly to the closest animal shelters (65 miles away), posted on Facebook and Craigslist, and mailed postcards to all the veterinarians in a five-county area. The nightmare was real.

Almost six months later, on July 5, a large-animal veterinarian found Spirit near Fowler, 60 miles away. Being a vet, she knew to have the dog scanned for a microchip and drove her to FHAS, her local animal control agency.

Thanks to an up-to-date microchip, we were able to make the happy call that we found Spirit! Sherry was on vacation in Kauai, Hawaii, when she got the call. “I was in disbelief,” she says. She had her mom rush over to pick up Spirit. 

two labradors in the snow
Photo courtesy of Sherry Nolen

“We never gave up,” Sherry adds. “We knew she would find a way home. We are thrilled to be hiking and swimming together as a family again.”

We wonder what happened to Spirit along her 60-mile journey but suspect that someone saw a friendly, adorable dog and took her home, and she got out of their backyard. Maybe they didn’t know to scan for a microchip.

Sherry wanted to share her love and gratitude, so she purchased 15 microchips for the public to get their dogs microchipped for free.

- Amanda Allen
Community outreach coordinator,
Fresno Humane Animal Services
Fresno, California

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