VILANO BEACH, Fla. -- A Vilano Beach family says they always had at least a little glimmer of hope after their dog disappeared the day before Thanksgiving.
Celeste and Tom Grable say their golden retriever Dillon managed to get out of their yard with their other dog Buddy.
Buddy came back to the house, but Dillon didn't.
After canvassing St. Johns County with posters, even buying a pet Amber Alert, they got awful news ten days later.
"A woman called who saw a poster and said she saw Dillon hit by a truck," Celeste remembered.
The Grable's assumed the worst, and started taking down all the posters.
But not before reaching out one last time to the community newspaper, "The North Shore News."
"I called the paper and told them about it and the reporter asked if she could write a tribute to Dillon," she said.
The story ran and was seen by a family visiting from Virginia.
"They have a vacation home just three blocks from here," Tom said. "And to think they saw the article and then recognized Dillon walking on the beach is amazing."
Turns out Dillon managed to hobble away from the highway after being hit.
He survived six more weeks before finally being found by the vacationing family.
"They dropped him off at the house and he came walking right up to me in the garage," Tom said.
It was an amazing moment, one Tom says he'll never forget.
"I was like, 'Dillon, is it really you?'" he said. "Absolute happiest day of my life, pretty cool."
Their vet says he didn't suffer any major injuries, though he did lose 23 pounds.
"We imagine he ate out of trashcans on the beach for a while," Celeste said.
They say they never lost all hope.
"Nope, I never actually believed he was dead," she said.
And are now happier than ever with Dillon and Buddy at home.
First Coast News