Lilu the dog, who had gone missing from her downtown Elmhurst home, has been returned to her owner.
"Lilu is in my hands! I am like a child in a candy shop!," her owner, Elvis Andruszkiewicz said via email Sunday afternoon.
He said he received a call just before 1 a.m. Sunday morning from the person who had Lilu. He said she was found on Armitage, in Cook County, after having been missing for seven days. The caller sent photos of Lilu by phone, and Andruszkiewicz, who offered a reward for her return, arranged to pick her up at the CVS parking lot on York and North in Elmhurst.
Andruszkiewicz said he believes Lilu may have been stolen and he was "uneasy" about the transaction, but he honored the $500 reward he promised and did not ask any questions.
"I wish I could have had a small camera attached to her that (could show) me her odyssey," he said. "I heard a report on "Nightline" about dog flipping, and I truly believe this was a case of that. The variables all put together really outweigh the possibility of her running around for seven days. There was no way she just vanished in 30 seconds."
He contacted multiple police departments, veterinarians and animal shelters; posted on Craigslist, Facebook and PetFinders.org; and distributed flyers all over town.
He said he is upset with himself for not being more careful with Lilu.
"Regardless if she was taken from me, I am responsible for all my actions, reactions and responsibilities," he said. "I am getting my dog microchipped."
He also has added extra security measures at his apartment and encourages others to do the same.
"I do not want anyone to have to lose a pet, but more so, I don't want any more crime in general in our town," he said. "If you see something you know is wrong, if you are witnessing a possible crime in action, call the police."
But for now, he's just focused on having his Lilu back.
"I cooked her venison that I have held on to for a special occasion and showered her in hugs and kisses," he said. "She was so happy to see me."
Andruszkiewicz extends his sincere thanks to everyone who helped in the search, including the Elmhurst Police Department; his employer and co-workers at Cignot, who allowed him to share flyers with the patrons and even drove around at "inconvenient hours" helping him look for Lilu; and the surrounding Elmhurst businesses.
He offered a little advice to other pet lovers who might be looking for a lost companion.
"Don't give up," he said.