Eric and Faith Johnson of Putnam County, Tennessee finally have something to celebrate. Nearly two months after an EF-4 tornado changed their lives forever, their entire family is back together again. They weren’t sure whether they’d ever reunite with their missing dog, Bella, but the brave Australian Shepherd is officially home safe.
When storms ripped through the Johnson’s neighborhood about an hour outside of Nashville, Eric and Faith barely had time to take shelter in their bathtub. It was their dog, Bella, who helped alert them of the nearby tornado soon before the cyclone tore apart their house.
The storm leveled several homes in the area.
When the winds finally died down, the Johnsons realized their beloved dog was nowhere to be found. They weren’t sure whether Bella was alive or dead, but they weren’t willing to give up. Forced to leave the wreckage that once was their home, the family enlisted help to bring Bella back.
Together with neighbors and family friends, the couple continued to return to their ravaged street with hopes of finding the missing dog. Several sightings buoyed their spirits, but no one could get close enough to end the search.
After the trauma of surviving the storm and being lost in her now-ruined neighborhood, Bella was terrified and alone. The Johnsons tried several methods to lure her to them, but nothing worked. They left out clothing hoping to attract their dog with their scent and relied on neighbors to track her movements.
For weeks, Bella eluded all search efforts.
Sarah Romeyn, who often helps track missing animals, was working tirelessly to help the Johnson family find their missing dog. The search led to several dead ends, but then Romeyn received a promising tip.
An employee from a nearby animal grooming business thought they spotted Bella near an alley across the street. Hopeful with this new information, Romeyn worked with A.A.R.F (All About Rescue and Fixin’ Inc.) to set up food and trail cameras outside the alley.
This video, y'all. This one hurts my heart. Bella is one of the lucky dogs who has had the same dad for her whole life. But the storm fear just breaks my heart. That poor girl. To know just that there were loud noises, and then her home and everyone in it was gone. I just can't imagine. I'm so glad she's back home. One more time… Thank you to Karen Freitag Ritacco and her staff at Cumberland Pet Essentials . Special thanks to trapping guru Sarah at Big Fluffy Dog Rescue and A.A.R.F. (All About Rescue and Fixin' Inc.) for the loan of the cameras. This would NOT have happened without you guys and I am so very grateful to you.
Posted by Sarah Lang Romeyn on Monday, April 27, 2020
Video courtesy of Sarah Romeyn
Soon, the cameras confirmed the good news.
The mystery dog was indeed Bella, and while she looked obviously nervous and afraid, she didn’t seem to be hurt. The cameras showed that Bella had turned a skinny area between two buildings into her safe place. Romeyn posted a few of the videos to Facebook, and they show a nervous Bella making sure no one discovers her hiding place.
With Bella in her sights, Romeyn was then able to call Eric and another friend to help bring in the missing dog. They worked together to block the alley so Bella couldn’t run away, and Eric swooped in to show his dog that she was finally safe and secure.
With their missing dog back in their arms, the Johnson family plans to rebuild their home. Their journey isn’t over, but they refuse to let this tragedy dictate their lives. Bella is back, their family is complete, and their story shows that hope is never out of reach.
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