Following one of the most difficult periods of her life, Maria Maciocia was looking forward to reuniting with her dog, Sandy, after seven months apart.
It turns out Sandy was pretty excited to see her, too.
In a heartwarming video shot by her parents on Sunday, Sandy tracked a familiar scent through the house until he finally found Maciocia in a bedroom in her family's home in Markinch, Scotland. The dog leaped on the bed for a rambunctious greeting that left her in tears.
"It was hysterical,'' Maciocia told TODAY. "Even after the end of that video, I was still crying for God knows how long. Sandy is very in touch with people's emotions, and when I left for Scotland I told my friends, 'All I care about right now is seeing my dog Sandy.'''
Sandy has been living with her parents for the past seven months. Maciocia was living with them in Scotland following a painful divorce from what she termed an abusive relationship, but said she had to return to the U.S. seven months ago to "confront her demons."
She was living with her ex-husband, a military veteran, in Oceanside, California, when they got Sandy in 2012. They found Sandy, a golden retriever mix, through an ad on Craigslist put there by a family living in Tijuana, Mexico.
"His puppy picture just caught my eye, and I was like, 'I need that dog,''' she said. "We called the family and they said they were leaving for the weekend and that Sandy was probably just going to stay in a crate while they were gone.
"I wasn't having that, so we met them that night near the border and paid $200, which was more than what they asked because we just fell in love with him."
Sandy was underweight, with worms and scabies, so they took him to the veterinarian the next day. The dog then became an important companion for Maciocia, who had battled food addiction and bullying to become a health and fitness coach. She then went through a difficult time with her husband leading up to the divorce.
"I was very suicidal at one point, and Sandy was the reason I kept fighting,'' she said. "When I would wake up in the morning and want to go back to sleep, he gave me a reason to get out of bed. I don't know what would've happened without him."
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Maciocia, who works as a nanny in Smithtown, New York, returned to Scotland this week to see her parents and Sandy for the first time since leaving last year.
"Sandy has slept in bed with me every night since I've been home,'' she said. "He goes to bed first and then waits up for me. He just has such a fun personality. Anyone who meets him feels touched by him because he's so loving."
The dog will be staying with her parents when she returns to the U.S. Maciocia feels he has a home in Scotland and doesn't want to put him through the trauma of going with her after seeing what he endured when she left California with him to fly to Scotland.
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