Jamie Carpentier had never gone to the Humane Society for Greater Nashua's website. But late one recent night, the Nashua resident felt the urge to log on and peruse the animals up for adoption.
He came across a 13-year-old basset hound named Ginger, without a photo attached, and read the write up on her.
It was the right name.
It was the right age.
"It can't be her," he said. "It's been so long."
Carpentier lost touch with a basset hound named Ginger about a decade ago when he got a divorce. Unbeknownst to him, his ex-wife gave up Ginger to the shelter in 2003, and the dog was adopted by an older couple.
Fast forward a decade and Ginger's owner could no longer care for her, releasing her to the Humane Society in October. It's a tough situation when an older dog is sent back to the Nashua shelter because it's harder to adopt them, said Noelle Schuyler, event and outreach coordinator for the shelter.
"He did the right thing, what we always ask people to do is to bring dogs adopted from us back to us," she said about Ginger's owner of 10 years. "It was tough for him to surrender her. She was clearly very well loved."
Ginger spent months at the shelter during that second stint until Carpentier looked a little deeper into the dog he read about on the shelter's website that night.
It was her.
After a rocky three months for Ginger, she was reunited with her first dad, Carpentier.
"People who can't afford dogs and give them up, you always wonder, 'I wonder what happened to my dog I used to have?' " he said. "At least I get to find out the ending. … It's funny, her name stuck with her throughout."
Ginger's homecoming wasn't the easiest. Schuyler and shelter vet technician Kerry Hildebrand became her foster moms. Both women opened up their homes to the older dog while they searched for her forever home. Three times they thought they had a home for Ginger, and three times it fell through.
"It's just amazing because we thought they were both pretty definite," Schuyler said about two of Ginger's potential homes. "It was kind of an emotional roller coaster. … She's clearly thriving but she's kind of an older dog and we wanted to get her into her forever home. The hours that Kerry put in screening potential families that fell through, that was tough."
Then came Carpentier. He emailed Hildebrand asking her to send him a picture of the dog.
"When I saw the picture, because I had the other (puppy) pictures, I said, 'That's her. That's her. This is going to kill me,'" he said. "I had just lost a dog on Dec. 24, a white boxer. He was ill. I said, 'No more dogs, I'm done.' "
"They were all sitting in the office comparing (the photos). It was kind of fun; I could hear everyone talking in the background," Carpentier said. "I was a little hesitant. What do you do? I said, 'No more dogs.' "
That's when Carpentier sat down with his family and talked with them about finding Ginger. He decided he wanted to see her and went down to the shelter on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
Schuyler said there was a crowd waiting for Carpentier and the big reunion with Ginger. She was laying on a blanket, a bit groggy from her nap.
"She heard my voice. I walked up to her and she kind of gave me a couple of licks or kisses. And I was like, 'She knows who I am, she remembers my voice,' " Carpentier said.
"She went over to him and Kerry and I were both watching. She had never gave us kisses," Schuyler said. "When she started licking his face, that was that moment you could tell she knew."