Expecting their third child, Brandy and Dave Metcalf of Wake Forest, N.C., came up with a plan to calm the household during those often chaotic first months with a newborn: They decided to let Brandy’s sister, Chelsee, dog-sit.
It was not a bad plan. They had a small house, two other children, and understood that Cassey, their Border Collie, might get shoved to the sidelines in all the commotion. It would be good for the dog — a short vacation with a member of the family who knew and loved the dog, who could give her the attention she needed. Even if she lived in another city.
“We just had our third child and we live in a small three-bedroom, so it was close quarters with baby stuff. We were just trying to give the newborn the attention she needs,” Metcalf told ABC News. “My sister was living alone in Charlotte and she’s not good at being alone and she’s known Cassey, so she got a roommate while we got past the newborn stage.”
Dave dutifully checked up on Cassey by phone for months, and Chelsee reassured him that all was fine. The phone calls got fewer and farther apart. After six months, Dave drove over to visit Chelsee and Cassey. The dog didn't run out to the car. The dog wasn't in the house at all. Cassey had run off.
As Dave relates what his sister-in-law told him, "There was a lot going on at the house one day. Cassey is very intuitive about big noises and is very sensitive when it comes to sounds. Something startled her.”
They searched for their dog, but she was nowhere to be found. Time passed, and the Metcalfs got on with their lives. Years passed -- four years passed -- but they never forgot Cassey.
“We gave up hope a long time ago, but every day she was mentioned in our house,” Brandy told CBS 6 WTVR. “My daughter just said two days prior to [finding the dog] that ‘I wish we had our Cassey back.’”
Then, on September 11, the phone rang. Someone had Cassey. She was without a collar or tags, she was covered in fleas, and she had lost weight, but it was Cassey. A microchip confirmed it. The people who had found her -- Cheryl and Scott Smith of Charlotte -- had some trouble locating the Metcalfs, since the information on the chip was outdated, but they kept at it and within a few days had located Brandy's mother.
(In fact, the Smiths even had trouble locating the microchip, since it had migrated from under Cassey's neck to under her ribs. The Smiths, who had met the dog three days earlier and were convinced she had come from a good home, had refused to leave the vet until it was found.)
The Metcalfs jumped in the car and drove to Charlotte, ecstatic.
“It was a beautiful experience. You’re just in shock. You feel like this couldn’t be the miracle that you want it to be, that it’s too good to be true,” Brandy told CBS 6.
“When we got out of the car and called her name, and she came running up to us, it let us know for sure that yes, she remembered us,” she said. “She came right up and jumped in the van. She was ready to go home."