updated 9/30/2008 7:57:50 PM ET 2008-09-30T23:57:50

A golden retriever who was 400 miles from his Atlanta home booked a trip back by simply looking pathetic outside of a Florida travel agency.

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Nine months ago, Pepper ran away from Atlanta while his family was on vacation. He somehow made it down to St. Petersburg. It's unknown if he got a ride or wandered on his own.

Then Pepper turned up outside 66th Street Travel last week during a thunderstorm.

Employee Jay Getman described Pepper as "just soaking wet, filthy, dirty, flea-infested."

Getman had recently rescued another golden retriever and became attached to the new dog, too. At first he was hesitant to seek out Pepper's owners, fearing the dog may have been abused.

But then a veterinarian found an implanted microchip on the dog with information on its Atlanta owners.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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