updated 3/8/2007 6:18:18 PM ET 2007-03-08T23:18:18

It’s a doggone long tale — 17 months to be exact — with an ending that’s short and sweet.

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Ruthie has finally, and happily, been reunited with her family.

The story goes back to October 2005. Ruthie the dachshund, then 8 months old, was sitting on the back seat of the family car when her human dashed into a Long Island store.

When Nancy Noel returned a few minutes later, Ruthie was nowhere in sight.

Noel and her husband, Lincoln Werden, contacted Nassau County police, put up fliers around their Manhasset neighborhood — and even hired a private investigator.

But no sightings of Ruthie were reported.

Until last week.

Someone dropped Ruthie off at a Manhattan shelter after spotting her roaming around the Bronx — 25 miles from where she was taken on that fateful October day.

Following procedure, shelter workers scanned Ruthie for a possible microchip — and wouldn’t you know it — she had one implanted under her skin. It yielded her family’s name and address.

“I was just shocked,” Pedro Rosario of Animal Care and Control of New York City told the Daily News. “We called her and she said the dog had been stolen a year ago.”

Ruthie was immediately reunited with Noel and her daughter, Sara Werden.

“We never thought we would see her again,” Werden said. “We were just stunned.”

She’s no longer the tiny pup they last saw. In fact, Ruthie gained 10 pounds.

Ruthie also has a new companion to play with.

The family had gotten another dachshund, named Holly, after losing hope of ever finding Ruthie.

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