BARTOW, Fla. (WFLA) – A Polk County family spent the last few months of 2021 distraught, without the “Tiny” dog that filled their hearts.

“Terrible, terrible. I was like, it was awful,” Bartow resident Sophia Burgess said.

In September, “Tiny,” a 10-year old, four-pound Chihuahua had vanished from Burgess’ backyard in Bartow.

“I believe she was stolen because it’s just ironic. She’s been here ten years, she’s never left before,” Burgess said.

Months went by with no sign of her. Then just as the year was ending, Burgess got a phone call.

“They said ‘well she’s been found’ and I said, ‘you’re kidding’. She said, ‘no,’ and I said ‘Okay, where are you located?’ She said, ‘Largo.’ I’m like, ‘where is that?’” Burgess asked.

The call came from the Pinellas County Animal Control.

Tiny, somehow, traveled roughly 70 miles from Bartow to Clearwater Beach, where she was spotted in the sand by Clearwater police officer Ryan Kenna.

“What we do with those usually is take them to Pinellas County Animal Control hoping they can kind of do some research and figure out where the dog came from,” said Rob Shaw, spokesperson for Clearwater Police Department.

Tiny was microchipped.

“Chipping is the only way to ensure that that dog comes back to you. Had that chip not been there, we wouldn’t have known where it came from,” Shaw said.

Burgess got the call about Tiny’s discovery on Dec. 30 but with the holiday weekend, Burgess had to wait days to pick her up.

The mystery remains – what happened to Tiny during those months?

“We just wish Tiny could talk so that Tiny could tell us how in the world she got to Clearwater Beach,” Burgess said.

It’s Tiny’s secret now. Burgess is just happy to have her home.

“Thank God whatever they did, she’s back, she’s healthy,” Burgess said.

To learn more about microchipping, visit the SPCA’s website.