Disconsolate and dejected over the loss of a favorite dog in Florida two weeks ago, a Key West man, following his only clue, hitchhiked and roller skated 1,300 miles north to reach the door of a Northern Virginia couple Friday.
Uncertain whether the lead was genuine, unsure if he could establish his connection to the dog even if it were there, the man knocked on the door.
"The little dog [a three-year-old toy poodle] just came out and jumped all over me," said Christopher Robinson, 29. "I was overjoyed."
The Virginia husband and wife who found the dog while vacationing in Florida, and did not wish to be named, said their reactions to Robinson's arrival were mixed. While they had been growing increasingly fond of the animal, they, too had been uncertain.
"We basically expected something but we didn't know when," the husband said.
Although the couple said they were happy to see the dog returned to its owner, the reunion also left them somewhat saddened.
"We sort of got a little attached to the dog," the husband said. "It was hard to fathom someone coming all that distance for a dog," he added. "There must be a lot of love there."
The story began in Florida Dec. 29, when Robinson, on skates at the time, was out for a jaunt through Key West, with Prissy, as the dog is called.
During the outing, Prissy wandered away and Robinson could not find her.
At the time, Robinson relationship to the dog was only that of close friend and guardian. He had once owned Prissy, but had given her to a longtime friend, Barbara Thurman.
Thurman "was upset with me and even more upset that she didn't have a dog," Robinson said. "What do you say to someone who has just lost your prize."
He set out to search for Prissy, skating through the area daily, and sending a description to a Key West radio station.
The Virginia couple said they found the dog, looking scruffy and forlorn. They were told by authorities that if they turned in the dog, it would be kept 30 days in a pound, then, if unclaimed, would be destroyed.
They said they decided to take the dog home with them, after leaving their address with authorities.
Meanwhile, someone who heard the radio description of the dog provided a license tag. The tag was traced, and soon afterward, Robinson, unemployed, set off on his northward odyssey.
After four days, 16 rides and a warning from police against skating on an interstate, he arrived in Washington for his reunion with Prissy.
Thurman was also joyful that Prissy has been found.
"Maybe I've watched too many old Lassie movies," she said in a telephone interview, "but if he [Robinson] hadn't gone, I was going to go."