COLONIAL HEIGHTS, Va. -- April 2014 was a dark month for the Pietrzyk family. It was the month their beloved Papillon named Louis escaped from the family car and disappeared.
Janina Pietrzyk and her husband spent the next two weeks searching for Louis and hanging fliers around town so others would be on the lookout for the eight-pound dog.
But as days turned into weeks and weeks into months, the Pietrzyks lost hope that they would ever seen Louis again.
"It's just not possible that he would survive," Janina Pietrzyk said of her tiny dog. "We were heartbroken. It was a nightmare."
So while the Pietrzyks bought another Papillon, they never forgot about little Louis.
"We treat our dogs like our family. We felt tremendous guilt," Janina said.
Recently a dog was spotted near a home off Interstate 95 in Colonial Heights, less than two miles from where Louis was last seen.
As the number of sightings grew, Colonial Heights Animal Control set a trap to capture the dog.
Then Janina Pietrzyk's phone rang.
The person on the other line asked Janina if she was still looking for Louis.
"My jaw just dropped and my heart started beating faster," Janina recalled. "I said, 'Oh my God, are you kidding me?'"
The little dog in the trap, animal control determined, was Louis.
The Papillon beat the odds and survived more than two years out in the wild.
"I have no idea how he survived the winters," Janina said. "It's a miracle. He's my miracle."
Colonial Heights Veterinary Hospital veterinarian Dr. Stacy Riddle said she believed Louis likely survived on food left out for feral cats and by eating dead animals.
"It's extremely rare for an animal of that size to be gone for so long... and to do so well," Dr. Riddle said.
Pietrzyk said little Louis is readjusting well to his new home, that was once his old home.
"He's so happy. He's running and playing," Janina said. "He remembers everything. He remembers the bed where he used to sleep. He remembers the car."
The Pietrzyks rewarded the couple who spotted Louis and reported the sightings to animal control.
Janina also credited Colonial Heights police officers Stacey Arehart for working tirelessly in the search for Louis.
Louis has a veterinary appointment Tuesday to get shots and make sure he is in tip top shape.