A family from southeast Iowa was reunited over the weekend with a four-legged family member who went missing four years ago. It happened in 2007 when Travis Hodson, who’s in the U.S. Army, was stationed with his family in Washington State. Their new puppy, Gretchen, was stolen.

Margaret Hodson says they searched all over for the Labrador mix for a long time. “We knocked on people’s doors and we posted signs everywhere. I called all the veterinary clinics and we continued to do this for at least a year, a year and a half, if not more,” Hodson said.

When Travis was deployed to Afghanistan, the family moved back to Iowa. Recently, they learned their puppy was found safe – wandering near a lake not far from their old home in Fort Lewis, Washington. A microchip helped animal shelter doctors recognize Gretchen belonged to the Hodsons. She was reunited with her family Saturday at the Eastern Iowa Airport in Cedar Rapids.

“I’m really glad we had her chipped because if we hadn’t – I don’t really think we would’ve been able to ever find her,” Hodson said. Hodson’s daughter, Meghan, was just five-years-old when Gretchen was stolen.

“It was pretty neat, I love to see her back,” Meghan said. “She wasn’t as big as this now.” The Hodsons live in Wayland, located in southeast Iowa’s Henry County.

By Nadia Crow, KCRG, Cedar Rapids