Family complete again after year-long search for dog they gave away results in happy festive reunion
Jordan Patterson thought he'd never see this waggy tail again.
His beloved Staffordshire Bull Terrier Marshall went missing over a year ago but after searching for him every day, they were finally reunited last week.
Jordan (29), from Belfast, said he and Marshall had a unique bond from the moment they brought him home in 2011 at just five weeks old.
His fiancee Stacy Myall (24) explained: "They went everywhere together. They were best friends. Some men are obsessed with football or Playstations but for Jordan, it was Marshall."
Jordan added: "I was teaching him to swim because Staffies aren't great swimmers. He got halfway across but he started to drown. I jumped in without hesitation to save him. We had that sort of bond."
When their relationship temporarily broke down and Jordan went to work abroad, Stacy decided that she couldn't cope with Marshall and their baby son Ashton-Lee (now 2).
She spent months searching for the right person to adopt him as she wanted to make sure he went to a loving family home.
When she found a woman in Dundonald who promised to look after him and take him to the beach, she decided it would be the best thing to do as she believed this woman could give him a better life.
Stacy said: "I told her that if she ever had any problems with him, that she could bring him back here but I thought she could give him things I never could."
Jordan tried to track the woman down to make sure Marshall was safe and happy but he said that it soon became clear that she no longer had the dog.
She told him that she had given him to another family and Jordan became increasingly worried about what had happened to him.
He began posting on buy and sell groups across Northern Ireland and on Northern Ireland Staffordshire Bull Terrier Rescue to try and track him down but as the months passed, he began to give up hope.
During this time, the couple got back together but Jordan said he didn't feel like his family was complete again without Marshall.
Jordan explained: "I couldn't cope without him. I was crying at night and it was difficult to be in this house without him."
Last week, Jordan received a message from a woman called Sinead Burns who had seen his posts and also spotted a number of Staffies that had been taken to Corran Kennels near Downpatrick.
Jordan and Stacy recognised Marshall's distinctive markings and they excitedly phoned them to claim the dog.
Corran Kennels try to keep dogs beyond the five-day limit that is set for most pounds. Marshall was nine days overdue when Jordan and Stacy found him.
The family were reunited with Marshall on Friday morning and finally brought him home later that day. Stacy said that it was a very emotional moment, particularly for Jordan. She said: "He couldn't get out of the car. There were tears in his eyes."
Jordan added: "I recognised his bark the moment we drove up. When I saw him, I didn't know what to do. It was so overwhelming. We were so lucky."
They brought him home and they say it's like he's never been away. Stacy said: "It's just like he's been on a long holiday. He's found his place again.
"He had a little spot in the kitchen where he would watch us and he went straight back there. He remembers everything."
"It's just so good to have him back", Jordan added.
Jordan was so happy to have him home that he decided to sell his Playstation 4 so that he could build a heated shed and run for Marshall in their back garden.
Jordan said: "We went from our whole family falling apart and now everyone is back together just in time for Christmas. It's a miracle. I will never ever let him go again.
"I want to say a massive thank you to everyone who shared the posts and to Corran Kennels for helping to bring us all back together."