DIAMOND, Mo. — The Bowman family has its pooch back. Their dog Happy is back after seven months of adventure, an operation, two intermediate homes and a new name.
Happy, also known as Radar, is the same dog who ran away from a different Joplin household last week to live at veterinarian Steve Walstad's Joplin office, where he was neutered last month.
Misty Bowman, mother of Codey, 14, and Chase, 9, saw Happy's picture Monday in the Joplin Globe with a story about Walstad deciding to keep the dog that he called Radar.
"I was yelling at my husband, saying, `Tell me I'm crazy, tell me that's not Happy,'" Misty said of her reaction reading the newspaper.
The Bowmans say they took the dog they called Happy home from a friend's house when he was 8 weeks old. He stood out to Misty because he was so friendly and not at all aggressive.
Misty's husband, Rob, was especially attached to the dog and named him Happy "because he always looks like he's smiling."
After 2 1/2 years as their family pet, Happy went missing from the Bowmans' 160-acre farm in Diamond seven months ago. Misty said the family drove all over the area, rode four-wheelers around the property, put up lost-dog ads, and went door-to-door asking for information on their pet.
"Eventually we came to the assumption that he was gone, we thought he got run over," Misty said.
But that was not the case. He had been taken in by a family that named Radar for his ability to find his way around.
That talent showed up earlier this month when he came back to Walstad's office, where he had been boarded for several weeks - and neutered - while his adoptive family was out of town.
The family was considering trying to find another home for him anyway, so Walstad decided to keep him as an office pet.
"He was gone for seven months and usually if you don't find the dog in a couple weeks, they're just gone," Misty Bowman said Monday. "What are the chances he'd turn up in the middle of Joplin, and in the newspaper?"
Bowman called Walstad's office Monday and explained the situation, insisting her children didn't know that Happy was still alive and that Walstad could keep him if he wanted. But Walstad said he couldn't be happier with the way things turned out and cheerfully turned over the dog to its rightful owners.
Happy went home Monday afternoon, and Misty Bowman said he started to get excited in the car as they got close to the house.
"He knew where he was at," she said.