It had been a rough ride for the pit bull who had found himself homeless after becoming separated from his owner. And after weeks in a shelter and no interest from prospective families, it finally appeared that the dog might be put out of his misery. But days before his scheduled euthanasia, the pooch got a visit from an emotional man.
Barry Gearhart lives in West Palm Beach, Florida. There, he works as a fitness instructor at a local gym. While the muscle-man may look as hard as steel, however, he harbored a soft spot for Titan, his beloved pit bull.
Gearhart had raised the dog since it was a puppy, and the pair had been as close as can be. So we can only imagine the trainer’s complete horror when someone reportedly stole the pit bull from him in 2014. At the time, Titan was eight years old and sitting in Gearhart’s vehicle while his owner ran an errand.
When Gearhart returned to his vehicle, however, the dog had completely disappeared. The panicked owner then went in search of the pooch or, failing that, an explanation. And that’s when a nearby security guard revealed that he’d witnessed a guy taking the animal away.
At that moment, Gearhart knew someone had most definitely stolen his dog. Describing the moment he noticed that Titan was missing, Gearhart told Florida’s WPBF news in 2016, “The worst day of my life had occurred. I looked in the truck. It was empty. It was quiet.”
To make matters worse, Gearhart believed he only had himself to blame for Titan’s disappearance. Perhaps if he hadn’t left the pooch in his truck, he thought, they would still be together. It was an idea that crippled Gearhart, but he wouldn’t give up on his dog so easily.
So with that in mind, Gearhart embarked on a tireless search to find Titan. He even rifled through local neighborhoods and posted appeals on his Facebook page. But after turning what must have seemed like the whole city over, his efforts proved fruitless.
And all of a sudden, a year had passed since Titan’s disappearance. By then, Gearhart must have given up all hope of ever seeing his beloved pet again. And that was a thought that upset him greatly. “I cried every day for a year for this dog, I promise you,” he later revealed to WPBF.
In December 2015, however, Gearhart received a ray of hope. The heartbroken owner had posted some pictures of Titan on a lost-and-found pets page on Facebook in a last-ditch effort to find him. And miraculously, someone came forward with some vital information.
A volunteer from the local Animal Care and Control center thought that Titan could be one of the dogs at their shelter. Nicknamed Hank, the pooch in question had been at the pound for a while. And with no adoption in the pipeline, he was destined to be put down just two days later.
With time clearly of the essence, Gearhart rushed to the shelter to see if the dog was indeed Titan. In video footage from the kennel, the hopeful owner peers through the bars and says, “Hey boy.” And upon hearing a familiar voice the pit bull starts barking like crazy.
As the pooch’s owner turns the lens onto himself, it’s clear to see that Gearhart is distraught. His eyes well up with tears as he says to the camera, “Look who turned up.” He flips his focus back onto Titan, who is also whimpering in anticipation of a reunion with his owner.
Not wanting to waste another moment with the pooch, Gearhart had soon taken Titan back to his home. And it was only then that the trainer got to reflect on having saved his precious pit bull from death row. “It really is a miracle,” he told WPBF in January 2016.
According to Gearhart, when he got Titan home, the dog made a beeline for the back door. It seemed that he was eager to be let out into the yard that he had once loved so much. So while Titan had been gone for an entire year, it appeared that nothing had really changed.
But Gearhart will likely never know just what had happened in the 12 months that he and Titan had been separated. The dog had gone to Animal Care and Control as a stray, after all. And while the staff there had presumably done all they could to find him a new family, they’d had no success at all.
The fact that Titan didn’t have a microchip meant that Animal Care and Control had no idea that he belonged to Gearhart, either. With a chip, they would have contacted him right away, saving the dog from weeks in the shelter and the prospect of being put down.
That’s why it’s incredibly important that pet owners get microchips for their dogs. So if the animals do get lost, a simple scan will reveal their identity. Alternatively, collars with name tags on them can also be handy when it comes to keeping pets safe.
Gearhart unfortunately learned the importance of microchipping pets the hard way. But once reunited with Titan, the trainer felt able to put their separation behind him. The pair subsequently spent another two joy-filled years together before the pit bull passed away in November 2017.
Writing on Facebook following the pooch’s death, Gearhart wrote, “Titan has passed. He has been my ride-or-die sidekick and best friend. Simply put, one of the best parts of my life. Those of you who have dogs or cats as family members know how hard this is.”
In a final tribute to the deceased dog, Gearhart added, “I still thank God for reuniting Titan and I for the final days of his life. Thank you for always being there for me in my time of need. I’m gonna miss you so much. R.I.P. bud, you’re out of pain and so much better off. I love you, and I’ll never forget you.”