This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

SAN DIEGO — A family separated from their German Shepherd dog three years ago finally got the call they had been waiting for.

A shelter employee called them a couple of weeks ago and said they found 6-year-old Rico on a street nearly 2,500 miles away in Virginia.

Owner Andrea Arce said Rico was taken from the family during a messy break-up and given away three years ago. It’s unclear how he ended up all the way in Virginia. She and her kids were heartbroken.

Saturday night, Rico was flown back home on a United Airlines flight, and Arce and her daughters, 6 and 8, went to pick him up. The girls had no idea they were being reunited with their former friend.

As the family walked up to Rico’s crate, he began scratching and whining. When he was finally let out it was clear Rico remembered his owners.

Download Fox 5 iPhone app  |  Download Fox 5 Android app