'Ruff' lesson: Virginia family mistakenly takes home wrong dog from day care

How well can you identify your own pet? 

A family in Burke, Virginia discovered just how challenging that can be when they mistakenly brought home the wrong Golden Retriever from a local doggy day care. 

It was a ruff couple of days for at least one of the dogs who went back to a home filled with family cats that attacked the four-legged stranger. 

"From now on, like before we pick her up, we’re checking her tongue," said Kebby Kelley. "We’re making sure that birthmark is there because believe it or not, it wasn’t that hard — that’s why we can’t be too upset with the day care center. They look so much alike! It’s really difficult."

Kebby and her husband, Joe Kelley, own a 1-and-a-half-year-old Golden Retriever named Ehmi (pronounced Emmy). The two tell FOX 5 they’ve been taking their dog to a doggy day care called Affectionate Pet Care in Fairfax, Virginia. And they love the business. 

Kebby (L) and Joe Kelley (R)

Ehmi apparently drags her owners through the front door, she’s that excited to go each time.

On a visit this past Tuesday, Kebby says the couple decided to opt for the grooming service and had their son pick up their pup.

Later, they noticed something was different but chalked it up to an interesting haircut. Then, the family started to notice other differences, including their cats not liking this dog. Ehmi loves a particular neighbor, but this dog had no reaction to that neighbor on a walk. 

Ehmi's owners said she does not normally lick faces. This dog both licked and nibbled on the husband’s nose, leaving a small mark!

Kebby says even the trainer noticed a difference in behavior but never picked up on the fact that it was not the same dog.

It got to a point where Kebby thought maybe something had happened at the daycare or maybe her dog was sick. She also described this golden retriever as anxious and panting heavily.

Kebby told FOX 5 she took the dog to an emergency vet and by Wednesday night, the family began to realize the golden retriever in their possession was not theirs. The vet ended up confirming by checking the dog’s microchip.

"We just never even thought that that would happen," Kebby said. 

"I will tell everybody that loves their pet, chip your pet," she added. 

Mr. and Mrs. Kelley told FOX 5 they are not upset with Affectionate Pet Care. 

The couple is very appreciative of how quickly the day care responded. Kebby says the staff knows Ehmi has a "twin" at the day care named Maddy, and they were able to reunite the dogs with their proper owners.

Kebby told FOX 5 that the two owners now think somewhere in the pedigree, Ehmi and Maddy may be related.

We'll follow up if the two owners decide to get a DNA test done. 

Until then, Kebby says they’ll be dropping their real dog back to the same day care again starting next week.