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Lost in Azle, found in Arlington: How a missing show dog reunited with his family after 8 months

His name may be Bowser, but the American Bully was rescued like Princess Peach by a superhero mother-daughter duo.
Credit: Jenny Holland

ARLINGTON, Texas — "I am forever thankful for everything you guys have done."

That was from Samantha Jones to Jenny Holland and her daughter, Susanna. Those three - plus Samantha's daughter Monica - were meeting each other for the first time on a Zoom call.

They're complete strangers living almost two hours away from each other, but they now share one big connection. And that connection was sitting right beside Samantha throughout their entire interview with WFAA: Bowser, an American Bully.

"He's happy," Samantha said. "He's asleep right now on the couch."

"Oh, I'm so glad!" said Jenny.

It started on a Saturday evening earlier this month, at a restaurant in Pantego where Susanna picked up a last-minute shift. She said she saw a man with a dog and assumed the dog was the typical "Man's Best Friend."

Until that man left him in the parking lot.

"I went outside and I brought a large cup of water, 'cause he was panting like crazy," Susanna said. "I've never seen a dog pant this much in my life."

Susanna eventually decided to call her mom for help. While she waited, Susanna said the dog stood with her as she was outside taking drive-thru orders.

Later, Jenny drove up to the parking lot with her backseat covered in sheets so the dog could at least get out of the heat. Some college students also stopped to help, but they weren't able to bring him home with them.

"We're huge animal people, so we were not gonna let him suffer on the concrete," said Susanna.

Since they have a few dogs and cats at home, they decided to bring him to Susanna's grandmother's yard for the night. Jenny's son Ben stayed over to watch over the house, but he told her that the dog's behavior didn't fit the Bully stereotypes.

"He was so happy. He had water," she said. "(Ben) said he just lounged in the grass."

That night, Jenny turned to the apps Nextdoor and PawBoost to share information about the dog. She said someone on Nextdoor told her to bring him to a pet store so employees could scan him for a chip.

When Susanna and Jenny brought him to PetCo the next morning, Susanna already had a name picked for him. At first, she wanted to call him Brutus, which Jenny completely rejected. 

Then she looked at him again.

Credit: Jenny Holland
Bowser (AKA "Oscar") and Susanna

"It was just a weird sense to call him Oscar," Susanna said. "And I'd call him Ozzy to get him to come and he responded to it. I was like, 'Is that actually his name?'"

It wasn't -- but it was close.

Not only did they find out that Oscar had a chip. The chip helped Jenny and Susanna connect to his original owners. As they came to find out, Oscar -- whose real name is Bowser -- broke out of his home in Azle about eight months ago.

Samantha and Monica said Bowser's been a part of their family for four years. They had him since he was six weeks old.

In addition to being a family pet, Bowser (AKA "Pup-Pup") is also an award-winning show dog. He's won a plaque for Best Overall Standard Male and a few other first and second-place awards at True Bully Kennel Club dog shows.

"It was always super fun," Monica said. "He was an all-natural at it."

Credit: Samantha Jones

Back at home, though, Samantha said Bowser and the family's other dog have a habit of busting through their fence. They're inside the house most of the time, but they get very mischievous when they're let outside. 

The duo are known in their town as the Breakout Bandits.

"I have a Great Dane as well, so they kind of work as a team... and they break my fence," she said. "I thought (after) moving to a new house, this might get better. But no. Even at my new house, the big dog will start hitting the fence and breaking the fence, and then Bowser will just plow through the broken bones."

"One night, we'll actually put everything back, build the fence back up, cover the holes. The next morning, they're gone," Monica said.

Samantha believes someone took Bowser after a Breakout Bandits session eight months ago. She said he cost about $5,000 when they got him, so she believes whoever took him knew how expensive he was.

The family looked for him at different shelters nearby, and Samantha even filed a police report. While her family eventually gave up their search, she held hope that Bowser would at least be taken care of.

"We held hope for about a good three or four months. And then after that, I just felt like Pup-Pup's gonna be gone," she said. "I just prayed that whoever took him would give him a good home."

There's no information on how Bowser traveled from Azle to Arlington or if he's been anywhere else for the last eight months. But his family's just happy some benevolent strangers found him and got him back home, and in their eyesight at all times.

His journey was so unbelievable, even Samantha was shocked to hear that someone found him.

"It's just insane, we never thought that he would find him, actually. It's been a long time," she said. "When they called and said, 'We found your dog,' I'm like 'No, my dogs are in the backyard.'"

Then, back to her new friends on the Zoom call, she expressed her gratitude.

"I am forever thankful for everything you guys have done," Samantha said. "I think about it every day when I look at him. We're just so thankful to have him home."

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