ROCHELLE PARK, N.J. — Cesar Deidan of Rochelle Park couldn't hold back the tears any longer.
The Leonia native bound into Bergen County Animal Shelter on Saturday to retrieve his beloved miniature pinscher Lexi, who had escaped off his back deck a week prior.
He'd had been going to the shelter every day since March 11, when she ran off. So when someone who found her running behind Market Street in Saddle Brook brought her in, shelter officials knew just who to call.
"I saw her and I just balled," said Deidan, a Leonia native. "I couldn’t believe that she survived the storm."
Deidan — who has another miniature pinscher, Roxy — has owned Lexi since she was a puppy. He's never known life without her in seven years.
"My dogs are everything to me," he said. "When she left the premises I immediately started looking for her."
He couldn't concentrate on anything else and even took days off from work to look for Lexi.
Searches lasted up to 12 hours but after the storm, Deidan was ready to give up hope.
But, with the support of both family and strangers, Deidan continued to posting colorful signs around surrounding towns, calling police departments and seeding Lexi's information on social media.
"I was full throttle," he said.
"I was not letting go."
Finally, exactly a week after he'd lost her, Deidan got the call he'd been waiting for from the BCAS.
A woman in Saddle Brook was washing dishes when she spotted Lexi, who she initially thought was a fawn, and ran out with her family when she realized she was a dog.
"She’s a runner, but because she was weak she couldn’t run and just landed in the snow," Deidan told Daily Voice.
"She lost 2.5 pounds, which is a lot for an 11-pound dog. Her paws are bleeding and she's still recovering, but she’s in good spirits.
"I’m just ecstatic."