SMITH COUNTY, TX (KLTV) - It doesn't take long for a pet to become part of the family, and when you're talking about a decade, the bond grows even stronger.
A long-time family dog just vanished one evening, and when the Flint family had lost all hope of ever getting the dog back, the story had a happy ending.
Sienna didn't mean to be a wanderer, at least that's what the Phillips family believes. However, they found themselves posting "lost dog" signs all over the area at the beginning of the year.
"Our dog took off during fireworks on New Year's Eve, and we're not sure how she got out, but when we got home from dinner, she was gone," Jennifer Phillips said.
They recruited neighbors to help look for Sienna while fireworks were still going off.
"Any Lab is usually afraid of fireworks," Jennifer stated.
Days past and still ...
"No sign of Sienna," Jennifer said.
They posted on the web and laminated signs in ...
"An eight-mile radius around the area of Flint where we live," Jennifer said.
People thought they saw Sienna.
"Lots of phone calls, but it was never her," Jennifer recalled.
They checked out many found dogs.
"Wondering if we were ever going to see her again," Jennifer said.
There were plenty of eyes out there, including students in Jennifer's classroom.
"The community itself was just amazing with wanting to reach out and help us," Jennifer said.
They even had people offering to give them a puppy, but the Phillips didn't take them up on that. And they feel they made the right choice since one day, 52 days later, her husband Ryan saw a black Lab in a field across from their neighborhood.
"He kind of thought maybe he was just seeing things after so long and pulled over and called her name out of the window, and she looked up him, and he knew right then that was her," Jennifer said.
"So I got out of the truck, and then as soon as she saw me, she came running over and jumped in the truck actually," Ryan said.
"When I got the phone call from my husband that day at lunch that he had found her, I shared it with my class, and it was a really big celebration," Jennifer said with a smile.
Sienna found her way home. She had lost weight and had a partially healed broken leg but hadn't really changed much, except a few gray hairs and the fact she now barks a lot more than she used to.
"It was a really happy ending to a story which we weren't sure which way it was going to go," Jennifer added.
The Phillips still aren't sure how Sienna got out of the fenced backyard, or out of the gated community, and they will always wonder what exactly happened to her during those 52 days through days of rain and even snow.