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Kennel swaps black labs; owners slow to notice

Thu., Dec. 31, 2009

ISSAQUAH, Wash. – Two black labs didn’t make it home for Christmas this year.

The two pooches swapped homes after a mix-up at an Eastside dog hotel led them to be released to the wrong owners this month.

Bella, who belongs to Stacey and Rob Peterson, of Maple Valley, ended up spending a few weeks in Issaquah with Anne Galasso.

Galasso’s dog, LaiLa, spent time in Canada near Stacey Peterson’s parents, and then in Maple Valley when the Petersons returned from a vacation in Europe.

PetSmart PetsHotel, of Issaquah, where both dogs were boarded, is working to make amends, in part by refunding both families’ boarding fees.

Both families knew something was amiss, but never dreamed they had ended up with the wrong dogs.

To the Petersons, the clues included the fact that the dog they thought was Bella looked skinnier when they got home, barked a lot more and didn’t respond to her name the same way.

But they wondered whether she was just upset because they’d been gone.

Galasso chalked up behavior differences including much more licking than usual to the fact that she’d just moved to a new home, away from dogs that LaiLa used to play with.

It was Christmas Day when the Petersons, still puzzling over the changes in their dog, realized she wasn’t really Bella. Stacey Peterson joked that perhaps Bella had changed so much that she didn’t have a gap between two of her teeth anymore.

When they looked, she didn’t.

“Clearly this dog had all her teeth,” Peterson said. “And that’s when things started to make sense.”

Peterson called PetSmart, and took her dog to a nearby veterinary hospital that scanned her microchip. The truth was revealed: The dog was really LaiLa.

The hospital called Galasso. She was shocked because, despite the differences, the two dogs also are very similar, she said.

LaiLa, she said, has a bone protruding from the top of her head, and so does Bella.

And Bella, she said, slept at the bottom of her bed with her cats just like LaiLa did.

The two dogs were reunited with their real owners the day after Christmas.


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