The black-and-white Shih Tzu, almost 10 years old, has baby pictures just like other dogs. Born Aug. 3, 2002, as a pup she lived in Everett, where the Rogge family brought her after buying her in the Kent area.
"I was in second grade. I remember the day, picking her up," said 17-year-old Rayme Rogge, a junior at Everett High School. The family knows the exact day they brought Oreo home. It was Sept. 15, 2002.
Soon after that, they took Oreo to the Everett Veterinary Hospital for a puppy checkup. There, Dr. Thomas Koenig implanted a microchip into the pooch, right behind an ear, just in case she ever went missing.
Brenda and Mark Rogge and their two children lived at the time in a rented house on Everett's Colby Avenue. Their own home, where they now live, was being built in Marysville.
"I had a house cleaner," Brenda Rogge said recently. "We had a fenced yard, but the fence got left open."
That was five long years ago. On Jan. 20, 2007, The Herald's classified ad section included a notice about a lost dog -- Oreo. No luck, though. No one called with the good news that Oreo had been found.
They were sad about the loss, but didn't want to dwell on the past. Brenda Rogge said she told her children -- Nolan Rogge is now 15 -- that maybe someone special needed a dog like Oreo, even more than they did.
Right away, the family got another dog. Their Labrador, Bullet, is now 5 years old. Bullet and the kids grew up. Oreo remained a bittersweet memory -- and a mystery.
It was March 19 when a phone call turned family history into a happy surprise. Mark Rogge was at his in-laws' home watching a basketball game.
The call was from AVID, American Veterinary Identification Devices. The California-based company that made the microchip implanted in Oreo in 2002 had the phone number of Brenda Rogge's parents. A caller from the company said the dog had been found, and gave the Rogges the name and number of a woman in Federal Way.
"Another lady and I were on the street where I live. We saw her on Dash Point Road," said Sylvia Corona. The Federal Way woman said Wednesday she could tell by the black-and-white dog's behavior that it was lost.
"I took care of her for about three days," the 28-year-old Corona said. She asked around her neighborhood whether anyone was missing a dog, or knew of someone looking for one. When no one came forward, she took the dog to her own veterinarian.
"They scanned her for a microchip for free," Corona said. "I called AVID and gave them my information."
The Rogge family was stunned by the discovery. Both Brenda Rogge and Sylvia Corona believe Oreo couldn't have been on the run all those missing years. Someone must have loved and cared for her, and perhaps she ran away again. When found, Oreo wasn't wearing a collar.
"She couldn't have lasted that long without someone," Corona said.
Brenda Rogge and her daughter drove to Federal Way for the reunion on March 20.
"It's amazing, she knew her name," Brenda Rogge said. The dog, she said, was instantly excited at the sound of "Oreo."
There's more to the mystery. Although Oreo appeared to have been well fed and cared for, she is missing an eye. Brenda Rogge said veterinarians who examined her thought the eye had been surgically removed.
"Whoever had her took good care of her," said Jill Hibbard, a receptionist at Everett Veterinary Hospital where Oreo was microchipped. "She's very healthy. She's even the same weight she was years ago."
Hibbard said the microchips cost $45 at Everett Veterinary Hospital, and that some animals receive the chips when they are adopted from shelters.
"This is a message for people: Chip your dogs," Brenda Rogge said. "If it weren't for that chip, I would never have seen her again."
So Oreo is home, missing an eye and a big chunk of her life story.
"You're a cutie. We missed you," Brenda Rogge said, giving her wayward pup a pat. "If only you could talk."
Julie Muhlstein: 425-339-3460, firstname.lastname@example.org.
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