Monday afternoon, Cristina Parrilla, who now lives in Maryland, received a call from the Felines & Canines shelter in Edgewater. They found the pug who had escaped from her mother’s house in Chicago’s Austin neighborhood in April 2011.
The pug known as “Prince” had been tied to a pole outside a laundromat in the Rogers Park neighborhood for almost five hours Monday before someone called police around 4 p.m., according to the Chicago Police department and Paula Grabow, an adoption counselor at Felines & Canines, 6379 N. Paulina St.
An officer untied the 8-year-old dog, loaded him into an SUV and drove him to the shelter, where a microchip implanted between his shoulder blades identified his original owner.
Prince came into the shelter dirty and stressed, Grabow said, but as soon as he saw his “grandmother” — Parrilla’s mom, who came to pick him up later that evening — the dog relaxed.
Shelter workers recorded video as Prince threw his squat body around Linda Rivera in delight, while she remarked on how much weight he had gained.
“It was the cutest thing. It brought tears to my eyes,” Grabow said. “He remembered her very well. It was sad. You could just see he was so, so sad earlier.”
Rivera repeatedly called him a “fat pig” when she first saw him, but said she was touched that he recognized her.
“I got emotional,” Rivera said. “I didn’t think he would — it’s funny how dogs remember who their owners are, their families.”
Prince has always been an escape artist, his owner, Parrilla said. Neighbors and family would usually catch him around the neighborhood after one of his mad dashes. But one time in 2009, she said, he had been lost eight months before the same microchip led him back to her family.
“You’d think I’d learned my lesson,” Parrilla said. “He’s a sneaky guy. But thankfully I had the microchip on him.”
The last time, after a relative did not realize Prince could only be let out with a leash, Parrilla and her family found no trace of him, and they figured someone had snatched the purebred. Her daughter, 11 at the time, was upset and frustrated, she said, and they moved to Maryland a year later.
“In the back of your mind, you always think, ‘He has to be alive. I hope he’s OK,’” Parrilla said.
When Parrilla received the call Monday from the shelter, she said she started cracking up.
“I couldn’t believe this dog. He just goes out and about, and he lives. How does he do it?” Parrilla said.
Rivera is driving Prince to Ohio where they plan to meet up with Parrilla and other family members.
“He was definitely meant to be our dog if he keeps coming back to us,” Parrilla said. “Hopefully we’ve got him for good this time.”
The Tribune reporter Mitch Smith contributed to this report.