ATLANTA - Cassandra Drayton was convinced she'd never see her 13-year-old chow Foxy ever again, so convinced that she erected a memorial outside of her Gwinnett County home.
Her tears are now shed out of joy. Cassandra Drayton and Foxy are back together.
"I cried every day, every day for awhile," said Drayton.
Seven months after losing her longtime companion, Drayton was reunited with the slippery pooch thanks to a stroke of luck.
"After seven months, what would you think?" said Drayton "There's no more Foxy. That's the way I felt. No more Foxy."
Foxy was nothing more than a tiny ball of fur when she came into Cassandra Drayton's life. Drayton was actually afraid of dogs when her brother presented Foxy as a gift. The two spent the next 13 years together. When Cassandra's health declined, there was Foxy.
"She's my baby daughter," said Drayton. "That's how much she meant to me, like a child. I consider her as being my child."
But Foxy was a wanderer. Despite her advancing age, one day she managed to escape her leash. Drayton couldn't catch her. She and her daughter searched for days, then weeks, then months. Cassandra Drayton grew hopeless.
"She already has health issues," said Trunetta Johnson, Drayton's daughter. "It's like she got worse. She got depressed. She just wanted to lay down and do nothing."
After months of searching, Cassandra's family assumed the worst, and said their goodbyes.
They didn't know Foxy was very much alive.
No o one knows what she was doing for all those months, but sometime after that memorial service, Foxy was picked up as a stray and put in the Gwinnett County Animal Shelter. She was just hours from being euthanized when Chap's Chow Rescue stepped in.
"She'd just been groomed, so it was obvious she belonged to somebody," said Chapman. "She had a pink bow in her hair."
Mike Chapman's group paid to have doctors remove a benign tumor behind Foxy's eye. With nothing to tell him who owned Foxy, Chapman tried to find the aging pooch a new home.
"Nobody wanted her," said Chapman. "We sent her picture all over the United States, to chow rescue groups, Petfinder and Rescue Me. Nobody wanted an old one eyed dog."
Someone wanted her.
It was pure luck when Cassandra Drayton's daughter saw Foxy's picture on the web site Petfinder.
The result was a reunion that just didn't seem possible.
"Thank God she's still living," said Drayton as she embraced her long lost animal outside of Briarcliff Animal Clinic. "I'm just happy. The tears are for joy. No more pain."
Foxy has lost a lot of weight, along with her right eye.
She's regained her family.
"She means the world to me," said Drayton. "I'm blessed to have her back."