A LOST dog who touched the hearts of a heartbroken family is home safe and sound thanks to the power of Facebook.
Yorkshire terrier Tyson, 14, disappeared while staying with owner Gemma Conlon’s dad Michael.
The 62-year-old from Castletown was dog-sitting while Gemma was giving birth.
Gemma’s sister Diane, from Monkwearmouth, launched a desperate search to track down Tyson, who had provided the family with a loving lifeline as two relatives battled illness.
Tyson originally lived with Gemma and Diane’s brother Robert Fitzgerald, 35.
But when he was diagnosed with Huntington’s disease, Robert was moved to a home in Billingham and was unable to take the dog with him.
Gemma’s mum Kathleen took him in, caring for him until last year when she lost her battle with cancer, aged just 55.
Diane, 30, said: “Whenever my mam was feeling sad about my brother, or wasn’t feeling well after chemotherapy, Tyson would always go over to her and jump on her lap for a cuddle.
“It was almost as if he knew something was wrong.
“He’s a big part of the family and, in a way, is one of the only things we have left of our mam.”
Diane took to social networking website Facebook to make a plea for Tyson’s safe return. She received numerous messages of support, and constant updates from people spotting Tyson.
Eventually she received a message to say that Tyson was at Tarril Boarding Kennels, in Ferryboat Lane, Sunderland.
Diane said: “I always see people posting on Facebook about losing their phones or wallets, so I thought it was worth a try for help finding Tyson.
“The response was incredible. I couldn’t believe it.
“In the end there were over 300 comments and messages.
“People always say how bad Facebook is, but this just shows how good it can be.
“It brought parts of the city and total strangers together. It was amazing.
“It was a complete stranger who messaged me to let me know that Tyson had been found and was at Tarril Boarding Kennels.
“I phoned them up and they explained they’d found him wandering around outside, so brought him in, and then realised who it was – thanks to Facebook. So I’d really like to thank them.
“Tyson is now back with my sister. She won’t let him out of her sight. We’re all so relieved.”