St. Patrick's Day proved lucky for a lively, brindle-colored boxer mix named Avery.
And it proved fortunate, too, for the dog's grateful owners, who — thanks to the protective powers of a microchip, social media and a kind stranger who went the extra mile — were tearfully reunited with their lost family member after nine long months that included one brutal winter.
Where Avery had been since vanishing June 28 from her yard in Sandstone, Minn., might never be known. But she was found Monday, slightly thinner and only a little worse for wear, near Beroun, about 20 miles to the south.
"We just assumed the worst had happened and we would never see her again," said Liz Klavetter who, with her husband, Chad, had all but given up hope of finding the 2-year-old dog.
The day she disappeared, Avery was in her yard with her companion, a black Labrador, when she somehow — perhaps drawn by a squirrel or a rabbit — got past an invisible fence and got out and lost her way.
A frantic search followed, Klavetter said, with fliers posted around the town 90 miles north of the Twin Cities, and the sheriff and shelters notified. The owners' panic later gave way to grief.
"Even a month ago, I dreamed about her," Klavetter said. "I dreamed we had found her, and then I woke up and realized it wasn't real. I was so upset."
So when the call came Monday afternoon from a microchip company informing her that her dog had been found — by a woman named Heather Brewer — it was almost too good to be true.
Brewer, who lives in Cambridge, devotes much of her time, just as her mother did, to rescuing, fostering and rehabilitating dogs, especially pit bulls, that have been cast aside. "I don't remember ever not doing it," Brewer said. "That's what I feel I was born for."
Earlier Monday, Brewer had gotten a call from a woman in Beroun who reported that a dog had been hanging around her house looking forlorn and hungry. Brewer dropped everything and went to the rescue.
When she got to Beroun, she found Avery sporting a new collar and a trim set of nails. The dog, which also had been spayed, was friendly and playful and hopped right into Brewer's car.
"I knew she belonged to somebody," Brewer said, adding that it was clear Avery had been cared for at some point along her incredible and cold journey.
Thanks mostly to Avery's microchip and a Facebook page called Minnesota Dogs in Danger, Brewer was able to connect with the Klavetters, who had since moved to Barnum, 30 miles north of Sandstone. The happy reunion took place later Monday at a halfway-point parking lot in Pine City.
"I was hesitant to believe it was her after all those months," Klavetter said.
But Avery's reaction, and near-hysterical tail-wagging, said it all. There were plenty of tears and hugs all around.
Brewer said the reunion points to the value of a simple $10 microchip.
"I'm just so ecstatic for them," she said. "For me as a rescuer, this is just the opposite of what we usually deal with."
Avery spent her first night home getting used to her new digs and another companion — a Husky mix — to go with the Lab, Klavetter said.
"Things were pretty rambunctious for the first few hours last night," Klavetter said Tuesday. "And it was pretty rambunctious the first thing this morning. But now, everyone's kind of conked out."
Not all involved are pleased with the heartwarming ending, however.
"The cats are pretty unhappy about it right now," Klavetter said. "But they're just going to have to get used to it."
Jim Anderson • 651-925-5039 Twitter: @StribJAnderson