ATLANTA -- An abandoned chow who waited three years for his owners to return has been rewarded with a new home.
For years, neighbors saw Chen loitering outside of a Gwinnett County house. Often he was seen sleeping on the carport that he claimed as his home.
The house was empty. Chen's owners were gone.
"He absolutely would not leave that house," Lisa Renstrom of Chap's Chow Rescue said. "In the middle of the day he would go run and get scraps of food. There was a Kroger and he would pull scraps out of the trash."
A neighbor told Lisa Renstrom about the lonely pooch.
"He was waiting and waiting for his people to come home," Renstrom said. "The people on either side would throw rocks and try to chase him away. He would not leave."
It took weeks, but with food and a gentle voice, Renstrom was able to coax the nervous pup close enough to capture him. The next step was finding Chen a permanent home.
No one would guess what would happen next.
Hundreds of miles away in Ohio, Ben Rupp had just lost his pet of 13 years, a Chow mix named Goldie. Rupp's search for a new dog took him to a web site with Chen's picture. After a few phone calls, Ben Rupp booked a private jet and was on his way to Georgia.
His features are very similar to my old dog," Rupp said. "The pictures and the story, it all came together."
There was one problem.
In the weeks since rescuing Chen, Lisa Renstrom had grown quite attached. Letting go would be bittersweet.
At the Dekalb-Peachtree Airport, Renstrom gave Chen one last kiss.
"I hope he'll be happy," Renstrom said. "He deserves all the happiness."
If Chen was nervous about his flight to Ohio, he didn't show it.
Then again, he wasn't just a taking a trip to another state, but another life.