ATLANTA -- This is the story of the dog that got away, the soldier who came home, and the family who wouldn't give up.
"He hasn't been home to our house since last July, Heather O'Neal said.
She'll meet husband Chris at Fort Benning on Friday. He's been a Staff Sargent in special forces, Kabul, Afghanistan, His valor has led to both a bronze star and a shoulder injury.
His family hoped Missy, their pet Boxer, would heal his spirit.
"Especially coming back from a hard, hard situation and being injured. He can put his attention on other things," O'Neal said.
It was a perfect plan until Missy ran away, just before their soldier's return.
He's never tossed a ball or even pet his dog, but Missy is no stranger. He helped pick the dog out through skype and photos. From a war zone, he's watched the family bond with the boxer.
However, no one watched as Missy ran away, leaving Heather and their four children looking for her since last week.
Until a call from animal control. Missy had been found safe, but she had already been adopted by another family.
"I was glad she was OK but it was so fast and we didn't have a chance to find her or anything," O'Neal said.
When the person who adopted Missy heard the soldier's story, he decided to give up his new pet. The hand over is expected just in time for Chris's homecoming, ending a battle Heather O'Neal won, because of a person she's never met.
"Thank you so much," she said.
Heather wants to pay back that stranger. She's committed to finding another boxer for that family once she and her husband return home to Adairsville. She hopes will happen this weekend and that Missy will be there waiting.