A lost stuffed animal went on a 10-day adventure around the Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky International Airport before being reunited with its owners following a viral social media campaign.
Staff at the airport found the toy Dalmatian on Tuesday, July 14, and posted a picture of it to social media to try and locate its owner.
"We think this guy missed his flight at CVG this morning," the Twitter post read. "We found him hanging out by Starbucks outside of our security checkpoint."
Over the course of the next week-and-a-half, a wily airport employee took the toy on a grand tour of the airport looking for its lost owners.
The day after the toy was found, he was fitted out with a face mask and taken for a visit to the United Airlines counter. However, he "couldn't smell his family on the plane" or near the gate.
The next day, the toy was taken out onto the airfield and runway to get a look at ongoing plane engine inspections. He even got to hang out with a dog of the real-life variety, TSA sniffer dog Dafi, but "not for long, since he was on the clock".
The social media posts encouraged the public to retweet and share the pictures, in the hopes the stuffed toy would eventually be reunited with its owners.
And on the Dalmatian's third day holed up at the airport, he became an official employee, and was named Jet.
Over the course of the following days, Jet visited ice cream counters and other parts of the airport.
The social media campaign to find Jet's owners grew traction until, on July 23, the airport announced he was finally winging his way "home". The airport crew sent him on his way with a new stuffed-toy friend, a "flying pig".
On Friday, July 24, the airport shared photos of Jet being reunited with his rightful owners. He belongs to 6-year-old Florida resident Jaydence, and his actual name is Masch-Masch. The reunion was all the more special, because Jaydence was given the dog by a judge on the day he was officially adopted.
The airport's Facebook posts about the missing toy reached one million people alone, airport spokesperson Mindy Kershner told AP.
Doug and Phyllis Ronco, of Madeira Beach, Florida, drove to the St Pete-Clearwater International Airport to retrieve their son's stuffed animal.
The family’s flight out of the southern Ohio airport had left early in the morning the day the toy was lost, Doug Ronco told AP.
“I think our son was half asleep when he left Masch-Masch at the terminal,” Ronco said. “Under normal circumstances, he would never forget him.”
A judge gave Jaydence the stuffed Dalmatian on the day he was adopted by the couple. “So it’s very special to him,” he said.
Ronco said the airport contacted him by email to let the family know the dog was left behind. He thinks they were the only family with children on the flight, and acknowledged the story had taken on a life of its own on social media.
“The times we are in, some people see the humour in something lighthearted, and others say, 'Is this all you can do, talk about this stupid stuffed animal?'" he said, laughing.
The family took Oreo cookies to the airport to thank those who helped arrange the journey of their son’s special toy.