Stella the Shetland Sheepdog, stands next to Jeannine Michalec at PAWS. Stella has been missing since a wreck on the Eglin reservation killed one of her owners more than a year ago

FORT WALTON BEACH — A dog missing since a wreck on the Eglin reservation killed her owner more than a year ago has been reunited with her family.

When Jonathan Seaton’s Jeep overturned while he was trail riding Jan. 21, 2012, his fiancée, Jeannine Michalec, was thrown free.

She remembers waking up and seeing their puppy, a sheltie named Stella, running into the woods. She got up to help Jon and never saw the dog again.

“Jon had told me that we shouldn’t take her with us,” she said. “I felt we didn’t spend enough time with her. I insisted we take her.”

Family, friends, law officers and animal control workers searched for the young sheltie for weeks afterward.

Late last week, she was dropped off at the Panhandle Animal Welfare Society by someone who found her wandering in Ocean City. Michalec had since moved to Pensacola but drove over for the reunion.

“It’s absolutely surreal,” she said of seeing Stella again. “I’m in shock.”

Her daughter was a toddler when Jon was killed and Stella was lost. She would cry for Stella whenever she heard a dog bark, her mom recalls.

The two were reunited Friday night.

Stella is underweight, has fleas and has tested positive for heartworm, PAWS workers told Michalec. Scrub-A-Pup in Mary Esther gave her a free bath and grooming on Friday.

PAWS workers gave Michalec a big bag of puppy chow and told her to get some weight back on Stella to prepare her for heartworm treatment.

“I’m glad I have her back so I can nurse her back to health,” Michalec said. “She is the only thing that experienced the car accident with me. It’s sort of like a merger with the new life that I’ve created after (Jon’s) death and the previous life.

“It’s really strange.”

5 Responses to “Dog found a year after wreck that killed her owner”

  1. Sandra

    Such a heartwarming/sad/happy story. Your little Stella will give you much comfort in the years ahead. Amazing that after a year you were reunited, it was most definitely a GOD thing. Be blessed!

  2. Lois

    It is amazing it survived so long without succumbing to the weather….It is a blessing to have found her again. Our foundling Lady, was on the street for 5 months….she wasn’t eating well, including dirt and rocks, as noted by her teeth, but we brought her home. For 4 years we loved her and took care of her and she passed on July 15th with multiple cancers….love and miss her daily…….

  3. Sullivan

    What a sad/great story. I am so sorry for the loss of Miss Michalec’s finance, Jon, this has to have been a very tough year for her and her daughter to get through. I wish for them better days in the future and with the return . . . WAHOO! . . . of Stella, hopefully, this will be a big help in the continued healing process. You are in my thoughts and prayers. A big thank you to the person that dropped Stella off and a bigger thank you to the Panhandle Animal Welfare Society for their role in getting Stella home after all this time. I’m sure she’s a pretty happy puppy right now too, having missed her family for all this year and now being back in the loving fold with her humans. JOB WELL DONE EVERYONE.

  4. Tabitha

    Such a sad story. I’m so glad Stella had a happy ending.
    Prayers being sent out to all of Jon’s family. It’s so hard loosing a loved one.


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