A family who have been reunited with their beloved pet dog say they are "happier than a lottery winner".
Dad Jason Gallagher said they were devastated when Jack Russell Spot disappeared in May.
After weeks of searching around their home near Duleek, Co Meath, Jason, his wife Johanna and their three children held out little hope of ever seeing the dog again.
"We got Spot six years ago as a companion for our 10-year-old German Shepherd, Dora," said Jason. "They were very close and spent all their time together."
When Jason's son, Samuel (9), was diagnosed with diabetes, he was in and out of hospital for tests and treatment.
"Spot picked up on this and rarely left his side," said Jason.
"Then, last May, Spot went off on one of his little strolls and didn't come back.
"It was unbelievable. It was like a death in the family. Samuel was so upset, and the German Shepherd went off her food and lost all her hair."
Then, last week, Jason received the news he never expected - all thanks to Spot having an ID chip.
"We had a call from the Collon Animal Sanctuary in Louth saying they had Spot," he said.
"Someone had picked him up near Drogheda thinking he was a stray and held on to him until an allergy forced them to hand him over to the sanctuary.
"I couldn't believe it. When I picked him up last Wednesday there were tears from everyone. The kids cried, the wife cried and the neighbours cried.
"I took Spot to the vet for a check-up and he is 2kg overweight, so he was obviously living the life of a lord wherever he was. He was well looked after."
Spot lost no time in settling back in to his routine, snuggling up with Johanna and kids Chloe (13), Daniel (6) and Samuel
"The fella that won the €11m in the lottery didn't feel as good as I did last week," said Jason.
"It was pure joy. When the big fella comes on Christmas Eve, my kids won't be smiling as much as when they saw that dog again."
Jason is now urging all pet owners to get their animals micro-chipped and registered.