NINE years. That's how long Spikey, the pet dog of Dr Bilveer Singh and Gurdial Kaur, had gone missing from their home in Kovan.
But they were still hopeful they would find their then three-year-old dog as every time they saw a Jack Russell Terrier, memories of Spikey which was of the same breed, would flash in their minds and they would feel upset.
Dr Singh, a lecturer at National University of Singapore, recalled: "We searched the entire neighbourhood and made a police report and informed our neighbours about the loss. We also drove out of our neighbourhood in the hope of spotting him.'' But their efforts were in vain.
They lost Spikey in November 2006 and searched for their dog for two years before cancelling its licence in 2008.
The dog was a gift from the couple's friends and had been with them for three years when one day he slipped out of their home after the gate was accidentally left open. "We felt very sad and helpless and I had many 'what ifs' in my mind - if only Spikey had been leashed and if only the gate was not opened," said Dr Singh. He added that he and his wife had often wondered where Spikey was and how he was.
So when he received a call from an officer from the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) on Dec 4 to inform him that Spikey had been found, he was overjoyed.
This is all thanks to the fact that Spikey was microchipped and that the couple registered him under their names, enabling AVA to track Spikey's owners.
They were told that Spikey was found at a coffee shop in Yishun.
The story was posted on Facebook by Action for Singapore Dogs (ASD) on Dec 9 and has since garnered over 2,000 likes and shared more than 300 times.
The post said: "A kind soul went to pick him up and had him scanned. Fortunately he was microchipped but here's where it gets interesting… a check with the AVA showed that the dog was licensed but the licence was cancelled seven years ago in 2008!"
Mrs Singh, a part-time supervisor at National Institute of Education, said: "When the cage (at Action for Singapore Dogs) was unlocked, Spikey immediately moved forward and I held him in great delight." She added that Spikey recognised them even after nine years and responded to his name.
The post on ASD's Facebook page also said: "Spikey must have been picked up and cared for by another family as he was in quite good condition when he was found." Dr Singh agreed that Spikey had been looked after fairly well.
But before they officially took the dog back, they agreed to let ASD put up a "Found" notice in case Spikey had new owners who were searching for him. "Losing Spikey after having him for three years was extremely painful for us so we could imagine how the person or persons would be feeling having had him for nine years," Dr Singh said.
When no one claimed him, they took him back on Dec 8. They also have a Corgi named Zania, which joined the family in January 2007. Mrs Singh said: "Zania and Spikey are managing the new companionship well."
Said Dr Singh of the happy reunion: "Our prayers have been answered."
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