After a four-day adventure that took her to a few odd places, it was time for Elsie the dog to come home.
The reunion in Gibsonton on Saturday afternoon would have never happened without the hard work of a stranger and now that his pet is back at home Dennis Carter may finally get a good night's sleep.
"That really left an empty hole in my heart thinking about that amount of time we were away from her without any care," Carter said.
The Hillsborough County man and his wife left for vacation on Tuesday and when they returned on Friday morning Elsie was nowhere to be found.
The 15-year-old canine, which is blind and partly deaf, is believed to have escaped and run to a dock along the Alafia River with the help of another one of Carter's dogs.
"The river is right there and that's where we take them," Carter explained. "My thought is that she just walked down there and fell off the dock."
That's where Brian Peterson enters the story.
He was jet skiing on the river on July 4th when a woman alerted him to a dog in the water.
"Elsie was drowning," Peterson recalled. "I got on my jet ski, went over and jumped out and saved her."
Peterson's girlfriend Dana Moylan witnessed the rescue on Wednesday afternoon.
"When she was brought up on the island she was almost dead," Moylan said. "I could tell she was blind."
When no one came forward to claim the dog Peterson knew he had to do something.
"We took her home with us and started the process of putting found dog [fliers] out there," he said. "We had already got her out on the humane society website and put her out on Craigslist under found dogs."
He even reached out to the local media for. It wasn't until he began posting the fliers that the reunion became a reality.
"He hung it and within the hour I saw it," Carter said.
Late Saturday afternoon Carter got his old friend back. The reunion also led to a new friendship between Carter and Peterson.
Carter: "This is a great ending to what could have been a sad story. I think we'll become friends for life."
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