Missing dog makes remarkable return to Valdosta family

By, Noelani Mathews | WCTV Eyewitness News

VALDOSTA, Ga. (WCTV) -- When Will Rumley's dog, Judo, disappeared Tuesday, it was just the latest heartbreak for the family.

His wife, the mother of his two sons, recently passed from a brain tumor.

"On the heels of that happening, now losing a family pet. He's a member of our family. It's heartbreaking," says Will.

With the family away celebrating the holiday, the German shepherd ran off.

They were afraid they would never see him again.

"He wasn't scratching at the door or anything like that," adds Will. " There he is! He just showed up!"

In the middle of the interview, the unthinkable happens.

Judo returns home.

"This is awesome," says Will. "She has to get this on tape! He showed up while we were talking!"

"Judo just runs up the porch," says Ian Rumley, Will's son. "I was like, am I hallucinating?"

Judo found his way back home unharmed, and greeted his family with happy whines and wet kisses.

"I feel like part of my heart is back in place that was once gone after he left," says Ian.

The 6-year-old dog safely home, and restoring all hope for the Rumley family.

Lowndes County officials say the loud noise from fireworks leads to dozens of strays every year.

Around 34 dogs and cats have showed up at the local animal shelter since Friday.

Officials expect that number to grow throughout this week.

They encourage owners of missing pets to check in at the shelter daily.