Corky the dog was found by a good Samaritan on the side of the road with two other dogs
Texas family reunites with dog
Credit: The Montez family

On July 23, the Montez family of Fort Worth, Texas, had planned to spend most of their Saturday morning doing yard work.

“We were out there all hot and sweaty when I heard the phone ringing,” mom Kimberly, 39, tells PEOPLE. “I went inside, listened to the voicemail and was shocked.”

She ran outside and told her husband Jimmy, 42, the news: The Humane Society said they’d found the family’s dog, Corky, thanks to his microchip. A relatively normal occurrence on its own — but Corky had been missing for almost seven years. Not only that, he’d disappeared when the family lived in another town 45 minutes away.

“I thought, ‘They must be wrong,’ ” Kimberly recalls. But the family of six couldn’t wait to see for themselves, so they jumped in the car and headed to the shelter.

“We didn’t care what we looked like. Later I realized, ‘Oh my gosh, my children barely have clothes on,’ ” she adds with a laugh.

After they arrived, a staffer directed them to a cage and opened the gate. There sat Corky — older and a bit fatigued, but definitely Corky.

Philip Gonzalez, director of development and communications at the Humane Society of North Texas, says there were tears all around at that point.

“It was one of the more heartwarming stories that I’ve seen in a long time,” he adds. “Part of your family has just returned.”

Texas family reunites with dog
Credit: The Montez family

Kimberly’s mother, who passed away last year, adored Corky and always had faith that he’d be back, she recalls. Seeing the dog again “was almost like I saw my mom. The dog was a little symbol of her.”

The family had first adopted Corky in April 2009. As soon as they walked in to search for a dog that day, “the kids instantly saw him and that was it,” Kimberly says. “They went straight to him.”

Corky loved the outdoors and his family, and they loved him, even bringing him along to pose for photos in a field of bluebonnets. But about four months after he was adopted, Corky disappeared from their enclosed back yard.

“He had a collar, he was microchipped and was in a secure area,” Kimberly says. “We don’t know what happened.”

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For the next six months, the family searched for their dog, going door to door in their rural area to ask if anyone had seen him. Eventually, they began to lose hope. And when they moved from Boyd to Fort Worth, they assumed Corky was gone forever.

Not quite. Gonzalez says that a good Samaritan found Corky and two other dogs lying near the side of a road and brought them to the shelter. One had been hit by a car and didn’t survive, but Corky and his sidekick, a small terrier with one eye, were in relatively good health.

After hearing about Corky’s bond with the other dog, whom the shelter named Captain as an ode to Captain Hook, the Montezes chose to adopt him as well.

Texas family reunites with dog
Credit: The Montez family

“There’s no telling how long the three of them were together,” Gonzalez says of the animals. “These dogs have emotions just like we do. When they lose a friend, they’re going to stand by them.”

The Montezes now have four children and four dogs, which Kimberly calls “an adventure.” Although Corky is a slower-moving dog than he was six years ago, “a little bit of his spunkiness has come back,” she adds.

The family will forever be grateful to the Humane Society for the microchipping program they offer, Kimberly says: “Without these people, we’d never have found our dog.”

Gonzalez marvels at what Corky must have seen and done in all of the years he was missing.

“If that dog could talk,” he says, “the stories he could tell.”