Mischievous missing mutt Muffy is finally being returned to his owners — after nine years.
The scruffy terrier-cross is at last heading home after the RSPCA found her living stray in a garden in Melbourne, Australia.
Delighted owner Natalie Lampard had last seen her beloved pup running out of her Brisbane back garden — more than 1200 miles away — nine long years ago, The Sun reports.
"We found her living in pretty awful conditions on a piece of cardboard, she had matted hair and was riddled with fleas and had a really severe dermatitis condition," Victorian RSPCA inspector Gail Coulter told The Times.
After a vet cleaned up the scruffy white-haired dog and gave her medication for her bad skin condition, the welfare agency officers discovered the then-unknown pet had a microchip which meant she could potentially be traced to owners.
"We had to get the tracing department to track down the details because it was such an old microchip, and when we found the owner we rang her and said we’d found Muffy, and it’s fair to say she was pretty surprised," Ms Coulter said, Times Online reports.
Inspectors with the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals were investigating a possible animal cruelty case at a home in the southern city of Melbourne two weeks ago when they found the fluffy white mutt sleeping outside on a scrap of cardboard, Victoria state RSPCA spokesman Tim Pilgrim said.
A microchip in Muffy's neck identified her owners, and, after a few days of searching for a current phone number, officials tracked down Natalie Lampard, who hadn't seen Muffy since the pooch disappeared from her backyard in the eastern city of Brisbane nine years ago.
According to The Associated Press, Lampard got Muffy as a gift for her now 17-year-old daughter Chloe, and the two had been inseparable, Lampard said.
"After the RSPCA called, I rang my daughter and asked her if she was sitting down, then told her they'd found Muffy," Lampard said. "She's over the moon and there'll be a few tears shed when they see each other again. But just how she got down to Melbourne I guess is a mystery that will never be answered."