YAKIMA, Wash. — Joe and Josey were reunited Monday in an emotional homecoming full of licks and tears.

“Josey! Where have you been, my sweetheart? I missed you,” said longtime Toppenish resident Joe Razo when Josey was delivered to his lap at Yakima Regional Medical and Cardiac Center.

The miniature poodle that slipped away while Razo was recovering from surgery was turned in last weekend to Monte and Paige Heggie of Toppenish.

The Heggies, of Colonial Funeral Home, learned of Razo’s plight from a story last week in the Yakima Herald-Republic.

The Heggies plastered the town with notices of Josey’s disappearance, offering a reward for her return.

“It really touched my heart,” said Paige, also a dog lover. “We had to find her.”

She said a woman who had found Josey in a nearby park turned her in and was reluctant to take the unspecified reward. But she was ultimately persuaded to spend the money on lots of ice cream for her grandkids.

Razo, a World War II and Korean War veteran who has lost close family and friends recently, thought he’d never see Josey again.

“Thank you for bringing her back. She’s my life. This is all I have in the world.”

— Leah Beth Ward