WHEN 12-year-old Bailey Day woke up this morning to the wet tongue of his best mate Baxter licking his face, it would have been a reminder that miracles really do happen.
The Day family and their beloved purebred cocker spaniel were reunited yesterday - after he disappeared eight years ago.
Tears flowed and family members struggled to contain their emotions as Baxter was returned after being found more than 1000km away in western Sydney.
Baxter was taken from their home in a 2005 robbery and although the perpetrator was caught, their family pet was not recovered until Wednesday.
The family received the shock of their lives when a call from a pound in Penrith confirmed Baxter had been found alive and well.
They were tracked down thanks to Baxter's microchip and he was flown back to the Coast yesterday for a memorable reunion.
"He looks the same as when he left," Bailey said.
"It's awesome to have him home. It feels like he never left."
It was a family event as Baxter was chauffeured to their Buderim home from the airport.
Bailey said he never gave up hope of finding Baxter, even when all trails went cold. At the time of Baxter's disappearance Bailey plastered the neighbourhood with flyers and contacted all the local vets and pounds in the hope of tracking him down.
Details are sketchy as to where Baxter has been for the past eight years.
He was found wandering the streets of Penrith and it is believed he was sold to a puppy mill and kept in a cage.
The story is made all the more touching by the fact the family's replacement dog, Baxter II, heart-breakingly choked to death in Bailey's arms last year.
The family bought Baxter II, who was identical to the original Baxter, in the hope it would ease the pain.
Baxter II died when a piece of meat became lodged in his throat.
Father Nathan desperately tried to dislodge the obstruction and Bailey performed mouth-to-mouth in an attempt to restart his tiny heart.
Despite his family's best efforts, Baxter II breathed his last breath as Bailey cradled him in his arms in the back seat on a frantic car ride to the vet.
When Baxter was delivered to the family yesterday he was a little timid, in need of grooming but generally in good health.
Bailey and Baxter were both beaming as they sat on the couch, posing in the same position they were photographed in nine years ago, making up for lost time.
"It's amazing to have him home," Bailey said. "He's my best friend. He's my brother."