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Denver dog missing for 4 years heads home from Illinois

DENVER (AP) — It’s a Denver man’s American dream: Getting back the dog that vanished four years ago on the Fourth of July.

Kelly Booker’s 9-year-old Shih Tzu, Lilly, was found last month wandering the streets nearly a thousand miles away in Elgin, Illinois, suffering from a severe infection and exposure. Her nails grew long, and people who found her said she was in bad shape.

Booker said Thursday that his pet disappeared on July 4, 2011, when he put her in the backyard as he headed to a fireworks show. He does not know if Lilly got frightened by the explosions and ran away or was stolen.

“Kids were outside popping fireworks. We went looking for her and she was gone. It was like a child that went missing,” Booker said as he prepared to go to Denver International Airport to pick up Lilly.

Volunteers at the Almost Home Foundation rescued Lilly and nursed her back to health. She was identified by a microchip with her owner’s contact information, and Booker was notified.

Booker says he doesn’t know how Lilly wound up in Illinois.

Chuck Hanson, spokesman for the Almost Home Foundation, said Lilly got a big send-off in Illinois before she was sent home.

“She’s getting a lot of attention. She even had her own press conference before she left,” Hanson said.

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