WEST TOWN — A purebred Maltese dog believed to have been stolen from a West Town yard was reunited with his owners Tuesday — returned by a woman who had paid $150 for the canine.
"Hercules" was reunited a month after he disappeared from a front yard on the 1800 block of West Race Street.
The dog's owner, Lorena Ramos, said she'd given up hope that Hercules — who'd vanished Feb. 19 — would ever be found.
"I am so glad he wasn't hit by a car or trained to be a little dog eaten by a pitbull. Once this euphoria leaves me I will start to think about it and say, 'Hey, that wasn't cool.' But for now I am happy he's healthy, he's home," she said.
She had and her husband, David, a Chicago police officer, believe the dog was swiped.
"First we thought he had been lost but after he didn't turn up for a few days we realized he could have been stolen," Lorena Ramos said.
On Tuesday afternoon a woman who'd seen a flyer about the missing dog called Lorena Ramos to say, "We think we might have your dog."
The woman, who lives in Little Village, claimed to have been visiting family members in the area when her aunt told her that her new dog looked like a pooch seen on a flyer in front of a local school.
David Ramos met the woman and her aunt in front of Talcott School at 1810 W. Ohio St. on Tuesday and immediately knew that the dog they were carrying was Hercules.
"He has a birthmark on his butt area and he has a little curl at the end of his tail, and when I called his name he was so excited," David Ramos said.
David Ramos said he decided not to get into details with the woman,though he insisted on reimbursing her the $150 she paid to purchase the dog from "an unknown person."
"She didn't have to call [us]. It was a reward," David Ramos said.
A five-year-old white fluffy creature who'd been wearing a red-and-blue striped sweater at the time of his disappearance, Hercules was missing his sweater and wearing a flimsy collar when he was recovered. His hair was shaved to disguise his breed but he was otherwise unharmed, said Lorena Ramos, who works in the human resources department at the Illinois Secretary of State's Office.
The flier in front of Talcott School was one of many hundreds that the family had plastered around the city, along with ads posted to Craigslist and calls to area shelters and groomers.
Though three dogs in the Ramos family usually sleep in their cages at night, David Ramos said Wednesday that Hercules had spent his first night back home on a pillow in the master bedroom floor, joined by Spartacus, a Yorkie-carrion mix and "Jack," a Jack Russell terrier.
"They're a pack and they know it," David Ramos said of the dogs.