Michael Konopasek, News 9
NEWCASTLE, Oklahoma -- It is a reunion one family has been waiting more than a year for, and it involves a Maltese in the midst of a 1,500-mile journey home.
In June of last year, the Benson family from Michigan was on vacation in New Mexico when they were involved in a car accident that literally tore the family apart. But, soon, thanks in part to an Oklahoma woman, one member of that family will finally be home, a Maltese named Caesar.
Caesar is currently in the midst of his travels, staying in Newcastle at an animal rescue with Theresa Monnard and anxiously waiting to see his family.
His homeward bound mission started Tuesday in New Mexico and will end in Michigan. But, until recently, Caesar's whereabouts were a mystery.
In June of 2010, a rollover accident killed two members of Caesar's family. A 5-year-old girl and her dad died in the crash, but the mom, four other children and Caesar survived.
"Little Caesar fled the scene, and I don't blame him," said Theresa Monnard of the animal rescue.
For quite some time, as members the Benson family were piecing together their lives, they were left wondering about the fate of the lovable Maltese.
"It's been 14 months," said Monica Benson, Caesar's ‘human mom' from Michigan. "Who would have thought we would have found the dog? I didn't believe it."
An animal rescue found Caesar at a New Mexico shelter and scanned the dog for a micro chip, which led them to the Bensons. For the Bensons, it is a form of closure.
"He was a part of what we're missing," said Benson. "It's just that reconnection."
Back in Oklahoma, the soon-to-be reunion puts a smile on Monnard's face.
"I actually wish I could be [on] that last leg [of the journey]," said Monnard. "That last leg is going to be great."
Monnard says it will be hard to see her new friend leave.
"He's giving me kisses now," said Monnard. "So, either he's learning to love me, or he's feeling better."
Monnard says she is happy to be a part of his journey in bringing some needed happiness to a family that has been through so much.
Caesar's travels will continue in pieces. On Friday, a volunteer pilot will fly him to Kansas City. Then, 11 volunteers will drive 11 legs of the rest of the journey from Missouri to a suburb of Flint, Michigan. Caesar is expected to be back with his family Saturday evening.
Animal rescue organizations from across the United States are making the trip possible.