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updated 7/7/2011 11:53:55 AM ET 2011-07-07T15:53:55

A dog that went missing seven years ago in northwest Arkansas soon will be reunited with her original owner after living under a pseudonym for all that time with another family in the same town.

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Andrew Navarette told animal control officers that he let his Shih Tzu, Mimi, out in the backyard of his Rogers home seven years ago but that when he went to retrieve her she had disappeared, the Rogers Morning News reported Thursday. Navarette was unable to track Mimi down, even though she had a microchip implanted in her neck containing his contact information.

It is not clear what happened to Mimi that day, but some time later, Kim Rafter of Rogers acquired the animal from someone in good faith, renamed her Gizmo, and has cared for her ever since, KHOG TV reported.

Meanwhile, Navarette relocated to Woodlake, Calif.

On Saturday, Mimi showed up at an animal shelter in Rogers where officials found the chip and called Navarette, who had kept the same cell phone number through the years. Rafter did not explain to KHOG how she lost the pooch at the weekend.

Assistant shelter manager Matt Colston said Navarette was clearly excited that Mimi had been found and immediately said he would pay for the Shih Tzu to be shipped to his home in California.

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Shelter manager Bud Norman said Mimi is in good health and has been well-cared for.

Rafter said it will be difficult to say goodbye to the animal her family has known as Gizmo for the past seven years.

"We've loved Gizmo for all of those years and taken care of her," Rafter said. "She's a part of our family and it would be devastating for us to lose her."

Rafter said she had no idea that the dog's real owner had been looking for her. "They told me she had been a gift to this man's wife from her dad and then he passed away," Rafter said.

"I'm a sympathetic person and I wouldn't want to take anybody's dog away, but I'm sure that, as little as she was when we got her, I'm sure we're the only ones she's bonded with."

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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