Luke Fogleman is back home where he belongs.
A nearly two-week community-wide search for the 3-year-old Shih Tzu came to a successful end Wednesday afternoon at the Joe and Almeda Tadlock residence on West Washington Street in Benton.
"It's a miracle, really," Almeda Tadlock said.
Luke's owner, Joyce Fogleman of Benton, had offered a $1,000 reward for the dog's safe return when he went missing the night of May 2.
"I was in the yard mowing, and Luke loves to follow the mower," Fogleman said. "Then he trotted down Ed Doty's lane -- and, evidently, he kept going west."
Fogleman said that after her advertisement of the reward was published in the May 4 edition of The Benton Evening News and continued to run throughout the week, calls came in from area residents who had spotted Luke at the northbound rest area on Interstate 57.
"People were really looking for him," she said. "Everyone said they saw the ad in the paper."
No one was able to corral the elusive canine, however, who eventually was "flushed east," Fogleman said, and made his way to the Benton city limits, where he was spotted near Ace Hardware and Dollar General on Route 37.
He also survived last Friday's bow-echo storm that ripped through Franklin County.
"He was out in the 'inland hurricane,'" said Fogleman, who decided to increase the reward to $2,000. "There were times I thought he was never gonna see the light of day again."
Fogleman said she had nearly given up hope when she received a call around midnight Wednesday.
"A woman called me and said she was 80 years old and told me, 'You need to stop looking for your dog. He's dead, he's been hit on Route 14 and he's lying in a ditch in front of the hospital,'" Fogleman said. "So I headed out with the body bag -- a Hefty Cinch Sak -- but we never found Luke."
She said she then received calls Wednesday afternoon saying Luke had been spotted at the corner of Fifth and DuQuoin streets, and in the Auto Zone and Kentucky Fried Chicken area of West Main Street.
Some residents who had been tracking the skittish Luke were able to get him to go inside the fence at the Tadlocks' home.
That's where Fogleman and her pet were reunited.
"She loved that dog and kissed that dog -- and then she kissed me," Joe Tadlock said. "I told her she should have kissed me first!"
Tadlock split his reward with another person who had been involved with tracking Luke, while other searchers -- Palmer Richardson, Lisa Fowler and Pat Hollada -- also were rewarded by Fogleman.
During his journey, Luke lost about a third of his 15-pound body weight. Fogleman said she also "had to pull about 150 ticks off him," but that overall, the dog appears to be in good shape.
"People have been so wonderful," Fogleman said.