Last week, when José Eduardo Millani Ramos headed out for an early morning walk near his home in Brazil, he had no idea of the twisting and turning drama that would result.
Often, as Ramos leaves for his walks, his beloved dog, Ikki, trails a short distance behind him.
But on this day, by the time Ramos returned home, the pup was nowhere to be seen.
Ramos and his family began to search the streets for Ikki and to ask others to keep an eye out — though all to no avail.
“I felt terrible when he disappeared,” Ramos told The Dodo. “It felt like part of me had been taken away. I needed to know what happened to him.”
After two days of fruitless searching, it seemed the family got their answer. Ramos saw a post online that a lost dog had been rescued — and he recognized the pup’s tell-tale spots.
Ikki had been found! Or had he?
Ramos drove to reunite with Ikki, and was filled with joy upon seeing his wagging tail again. Aside from being dirtier than when Ramos had last seen him, the dog was in good health.
“I called out his name, and he ran to me,” Ramos said. “He wouldn’t stop licking me.”
Back at home, the dog quickly settled into his cheerful, loving ways, behaving identically to how he always had.
“He kissed me. We played,” Ramos said. “I felt complete again.”
The only thing was, this wasn’t actually Ikki.
After a few days passed with the dog at home, Ramos noticed that some of the spots on his back didn’t match up to those he remembered on Ikki.
Comparing the dog he’d taken in to photos of Ikki, Ramos realized the truth.
This dog was an imposter.
Ramos and his family were shocked, but they weren’t upset. By then, they loved this imposter dog, whom they decided to name Paolo.
What it meant, however, was that the real Ikki was still missing. But he wouldn’t be missing much longer.
Ramos resumed his search online and found a post that another dog resembling Ikki had been found — and the spots on this pup all matched up.
Again, Ramos drove to pick up his missing dog.
Only this time, it was really him.
All had been set right. But Ramos and his family ended up all the richer for the saga.
They decided to keep Paolo and to love him alongside Ikki for a lifetime.
“We decided to keep the imposter. Paolo had been a homeless dog, but now he makes everything feel more complete,” Ramos said. “He’s not to blame. He deserves a home, too.”
Best of all, Ikki has no ill feeling toward the dog who assumed his identity. In fact, he and Paolo act as if they’ve always been together.
“They’re friends now,” Ramos said.
In searching for Ikki, Ramos and his family found more than they ever imagined.
“I am lucky to have them,” Ramos said. “It was a mistake that ended very well.”