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A San Diego family heartbroken after their German shepherd was taken away from them three years ago was overjoyed Saturday night when they were reunited with him after he was found nearly 2,500 miles away, according to KTLA sister station KSWB.

Andrea Arce told the television station that the dog, named “Rico,” was taken during a messy break-up, leaving her and her two young daughters devastated.

But two weeks ago, Arce got a call from an animal shelter employee who delivered the good news: Rico had been found wandering a street in Virginia.

It was not clear how the dog wound up across the country, but he was flown back to San Diego on Saturday, the station reported.

Arce took her daughters, ages 6 and 8, to pick him up at the airport. However, she did not tell them they were going there to be reunited with their faithful old companion.

The emotional reunion was caught by a TV news camera.

As the family walked in to a hangar where Rico was crated, the German shepherd began whining and scratching at the crate, apparently remembering the family, the video showed.

“I missed you so much!” one of the girls could be heard yelling.

Once let out, the excited dog jumped into Arce’s outstretched arms.

“It’s a connection that we had the first three years of his life,” she said, holding back tears of joy. “We never forgot him and he never forgot us.”

KTLA sister station KSWB contributed to this story.