If dogs could talk, this pooch might speak of rugged adventures on the streets of Spokane, scavenging for food, dodging cars and rumbling with street strays. Or, if he truly understood his circumstances, he might start with a thank you. Had it not been for that microchip, he'd be locked in a cage awaiting adoption...

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SPOKANE — If dogs could talk, this pooch might speak of rugged adventures on the streets of Spokane, scavenging for food, dodging cars and rumbling with street strays.

Or, if he truly understood his circumstances, he might start with a thank you. Had it not been for that microchip, he’d be locked in a cage awaiting adoption with a roomful of barking competitors.

Instead, Zeus the Maltese is home with his family after spending much of the year missing. Picked up by an animal-control officer Monday, a microchip embedded in his skin as a puppy gave SpokAnimal his owner’s information.

Jana Erickson left her job at Car Toys early Tuesday for the reunion at SpokAnimal.

“We waited for months and finally realized we weren’t probably going to get him back,” Erickson said. “We’ve missed him so much.”

Now about 3 years old, Zeus disappeared from the Ericksons’ yard near Park Road and Sprague Avenue in Spokane Valley last winter.

The family scoured the neighborhood. Friends and neighbors kept an eye out, too, but there was no sign of the white, silky-haired dog until a SpokAnimal employee called Erickson this week.

Zeus had been picked up in the 2100 block of East Lacrosse Avenue, about six miles from the Erickson home. He returned home Tuesday evening, to the delight of Erickson’s sons, ages 2 and 4.

Zeus will have a new friend at home, too: a cocker spaniel named Bart. The family bought him a couple of weeks ago.

First on Zeus’ agenda? A haircut. The dog’s matted fur covered his eyes as he cuddled with Erickson at SpokAnimal.

Erickson hopes other pet owners learn from her experience.

Microchips like Zeus’ cost about $15, said Alicia Finch, an animal-control technician at SpokAnimal.

“It is the one piece of owner identification that can’t fall off,” Finch said.