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Dog Thought to Be Dead Travels 3,000 Miles to Reunite with His Military Family

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After “rising from the dead” and traveling across the country, Zeus the dog is finally back with his family.

On Friday, Ben, Melody and their two sons – with arms outstretched and tears in their eyes – greeted the beloved pet they were told passed away years ago.

In 2011, Ben and Melody had to make the heartbreaking decision to leave their dog Zeus in North Carolina. Ben, a chief warrant officer in the military, had been transferred from Fort Bragg to South Korea, and the family was unable to bring their beloved pet to the new home.

Ben and Melody, who wish to keep their last name private, chose to leave Zeus under the care of another family in North Carolina, which allowed them to get regular updates on how the Rottweiler mix was adjusting. Unfortunately, several months into their stay in South Korea, the pet parents received a call from Zeus’ caretakers saying the canine had died.

The years passed and the pain of losing Zeus slowly dissipated. Ben and Melody eventually returned to the United States, settling in Washington. It was at this Northwest home that they received a shocking phone call from Banfield Pet Hospital in Raleigh, North Carolina. Zeus had been found, very much alive, wandering the streets and woods of Raleigh as a stray. A Good Samaritan found the “deceased” dog and brought him to a shelter, where he was scanned for a microchip. The scan uncovered Ben’s contact information; he was stunned to hear the news about Zeus’ location and status.

“There are simply no words to describe what we felt when we got that phone call. We were in complete disbelief. Once that brief second had passed, we were all crying. We were frantic with excitement and gratitude,” the couple told PEOPLE.

Ben and Melody were eager to fly Zeus home immediately, but they were blocked from doing so due to the dog’s health. Zeus has heart worms, and while the prognosis is good, it is unsafe for the canine to fly in his condition right now. Instead of postponing Ben and Melody’s reunion with Zeus any longer, Rachel Overby, a practice manager at the Banfield Pet Hospital, offered to drive the pooch nearly 3,000 miles to his family’s front door.

“At Banfield, we believe in doing what is right for the pet each and every time. I feel incredibly lucky and honored to help bring Zeus home to his family – it’s only right that they get the chance to be reconnected after all this time,” Overby told PEOPLE.

“Certainly one of the highlights of my career.”

On Aug. 9, Rachel and Zeus began their reunion road trip to Lacey, Washington. Along the way, the duo made a few stops and brought plenty of smiles to animal lovers, Tweeting about their adventures with the #GetZeusHome hashtag and posting photos on Facebook. Now, after years of waiting, wandering and wondering, Zeus and his family are finally together again.

This astounding reunion happened just one day shy of Aug. 15, also known as Check Your Chip Day, an annual reminder to keep your pet’s microchip information updated. Zeus’ amazing story is an important example of how vital microchips are to keeping owners safely connected to their pets.