GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - The wayward Cowboy is back home. The 8-year-old lab mix spent 19 days lost in the woods behind his home.
His safe return is because of a tenacious search by his owner and a lot of new found friends. Now, it's time for Cowboy and his owner, Calvin Coleman, to get back to normal.
But, one has found it easier than the other.
"He doesn't know he was lost," Coleman said. "He just knows he's home."
For Coleman, it's been more than tough.
"It was like a piece of my heart was missing," he said. "There was a hole in my heart that I could not stop until I found him. It was torturous. It's just indescribable knowing this creature is sitting out there depending on you and you're not doing what you need to do to get to him."
On June 19, Cowboy disappeared into the woods while chasing a rabbit. Almost daily, friends and volunteers hacked their way through the 4-acre woods to try to find him.
But on Saturday, he was found just 30-feet away. It was a last-ditch effort to save Cowboy from the woods behind Coleman's home that was already flooded with heavy rains.
One of the volunteers found him in less than 30 minutes - 11 pounds lighter, dehydrated, and filthy.
"I had a little mini breakdown in the woods," Coleman added. "I couldn't even carry him out, it was so emotional for me."
It was a group of dedicated volunteers that came to help, thanks to a social media push.
"It was amazing. People I didn't know. There were a lot of people I did know but there was so many people I didn't know," he said. "And it was emotional support, and prayers. They just took over."
Among the organizers was animal rescuer, Elizabeth Osburn.
"I knew what kind of toll it was taking on his heart and I knew that if it was me, I knew what would happen mentally to me if I knew my dog was stuck in the woods," Osburn said. "All these happy endings are because people put their time, their effort, into sometimes an animal that they don't even know - a person that they don't even know."
Cowboy is microchipped, and Coleman recommends that everyone with a pet do the same.