Joe Namath's family reunited with missing dog

December 27, 2013 1:26:29 PM PST
Joe Namath's daughter, Jessica got a Christmas gift wrapped in fur.

Jessica's beloved shih tzu, Tula, had vanished five years ago, when she was just a pup.

"It was heartbreaking for everyone, and to see Jessica and how she felt, it was tough,"

Jessica and her sports legend Dad also posted a $2,000 reward, and even consulted psychics.

However, Santa came in the form of Michael Cecere, a chef in St. Petersburg, Florida, 200 miles away.

"I immediately got out of the car and ran over to the dog, luckily it didn't get off," said Michael, "My vet was five minutes away. I'm hoping there was a microchip, they scanned it , and immediately a chip beeped."

Michael and Jessica met in the middle of the state - a place aptly named Yeehaw Junction.

"It was like being reunited again with a lost member of the family," adds Jessica.

Together they would learn that Tula had been found five years ago by a family with two kids. That family moved to the Tampa area, but never took the dogs to the vet. Last week, the family lost little Tula. Michael had found her whimpering, and then took her to the vet.

"They either didn't know the dog, or it was a disconnected number," adds Michael.

However, Michael wouldn't quit, ultimately finding Jessica on Facebook.

"I would thank him for going that extra distance, extra yard to check on the dog,"

Now a new generation of Namaths, Jessica's 3-year-old daughter, Jemma gets to walk Tula into the sunset.