BROOKLYN — Matthew Dublin thought he'd never see his dog again.
The last time he saw Phife, a black Labrador mix, it was a rainy night last November on Franklin Avenue when the pup got loose, ran into the street and was hit by a car.
"It’s almost like he got vacuumed up underneath the car," Dublin said, of the tragic incident that happened just two months after he adopted the dog. "It was so shocking and surreal. I couldn’t even compute what had happened"
The owner and his girlfriend, Kendall Layrock, 28, flagged down a police car and went looking for the 9-month-old dog when he was nowhere to be found after being struck. The two officers felt bad and drove them around the neighborhood, Dublin explained. Then they walked up and down Franklin Avenue with flashlights for hours, to no avail.
“I had this puppy next to me a minute ago and then it's gone — it’s like an alien abduction,” Dublin said. “We grieved. You are very bonded with a dog. It took a long time get over it.”
The couple eventually adopted a new dog, a pit-bull mix named Buggy, after assuming Phife had been killed, and moved on with their lives.
But then one Saturday morning last month, he started getting calls from a number he did not recognize.
“Finally I picked it up,” Dublin, 37, told DNAinfo. "They said, ‘Mr. Dublin, we have your dog.’”
"I was in total shock,” he said. “We get this phone call and it was literally like somebody coming back from the dead.”
Dublin, who works for USA Today, was“incredulous” at first and told the woman on the other line she must be mistaken.
Then she described a white patch on Phife’s chest, and he suddenly realized his dog was alive.
Police brought the dog to Animal Care & Control's Brooklyn shelter as a stray after finding him roaming about 10 blocks from where Dublin and Layrock lived. Shelter staff found the Lab's microchip and were able to get the contact information for his owners.
He did not show any signs of being injured, AC&C spokeswoman Alexandra Silver said.
“He’s fine,” Silver said. “Presumably he’s been cared for.”
Dublin and Layrock drove to the shelter to pick up Phife, not knowing if the dog would remember them.
"He seemed very comfortable and familiar with the apartment and us," Dublin said.
"Buggy and Phife get along swimmingly," he said. "Phife is totally at home and seems very happy. Every chance he gets, he licks us and wants to cuddle."
He added that the dog was a little skinnier but in good health. His veterinarian confirmed that he was fine and did not seem to have had any broken bones.
It remains a mystery exactly where and with whom Phife may have been during his more than 10 months away from home.
AC&C, which took in 957 stray and surrendered dogs across the city in August, thinks someone must have taken him in for part or most of his time missing since he was not terribly malnourished or injured.
“Microchipping your pet, and keeping your contact information current, is critical,” Risa Weinstock, executive director of AC&C, said in a statement. “We’re thrilled for Phife and his family, and hope their story will encourage more New Yorkers to microchip their companion animals.”
The Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals is holding a clinic this Saturday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. in Central Park at 72nd Street, where people can have their pets chipped for $25.
If anyone has lost a pet they can search through AC&C’s online database to see if it has been brought to a shelter.
When Dublin adopted Phife from Sean Casey Animal Rescue in Brooklyn he had a microchip put in — something Dublin said he might not have done on his own.
"We’re obviously really happy they did that."