After Ann Bustell's companion dog went missing for two weeks, she only had one thing to say to Rosebud, a 1-year-old standard poodle, when the two reunited on Friday afternoon.
"Baby, you're bald," she exclaimed as the dog, sporting a new haircut, placed her paws on Bustell's lap.
Rosebud went missing on Dec. 30 after Bustell -- a C4 quadriplegic who lost the use of her arms and legs after a trucking accident in 1999 and requires the use of an electric wheelchair -- suffered a medical problem and had to be taken to the hospital.
When family members returned to Bustell's Billings home later that night, a gate to the yard was wide open and Rosebud was nowhere to be found.
"I'm just very happy to have her back," Bustell said.
An anonymous woman brought Rosebud into Billings Animal Family Hospital, at 1321 N. 27th St., after reading a Billings Gazette article about Bustell's search for her, said owner and head veterinarian Dr. Edie Best.
"I think she had obtained the dog thinking she was rescuing it and providing a good home for it, which it would have had a good home," Best said. "Once she saw the article in the paper, she was just overcome."
The woman told staff that somebody else had given her the dog recently. She groomed Rosebud, cutting her curly, 1-inch-long hair much shorter than before, and cleared up an apparent ear infection before bringing her in at 10 a.m. on Friday.
"Thank you so much for taking care of her," Bustell said.
Best said the animal hospital helps reunite lost pets with their owners, including one case earlier this week where they posted information about a dog that was turned in and the owner quickly got in touch.
When Rosebud first came into the clinic, staff members weren't positive it was her, but luckily Bustell had her microchipped. Once they scanned the dog, they were able to confirm she belonged to Bustell and got in touch with her.
She'd offered a $200 reward, no questions asked, to anybody who returned Rosebud. Since the woman who did so chose to remain anonymous, she elected instead to give the money to the animal hospital's Injured Animal Fund, which helps pay veterinary bills for families who can't afford them.
"Since nobody put their name out there we figured the next best thing is to put it towards something like that," said Tana Farrar, one of Bustell's caregivers.
Bustell picked up Rosebud about 7 months ago with the intention of training her to be a companion dog.
After the initial reunion, Rosebud skittered around the vet's reception room, alternating between jumping up on Bustell and Farrar and sniffing everything she could.
Bustell said the first thing she planned to do when they returned home was to give Rosebud a new chew toy. That may be a bit of a bribe, since there's a new addition to the home since the dog went missing in the form of a 10-year-old cat who belonged to a friend who recently passed away.
Regardless, Bustell said she's simply happy to have her dog back after two weeks of worrying.
"I am just ecstatic," she said. "I would like to thank the Billings community for pitching in and finding her. It was so fast."