What once was lost has now been found, and Brendan Awe is anxious no more.

Beau, the constant companion and helpmate for the 16-year-old boy, was returned to Brendan’s side Saturday afternoon after a fellow dog lover realized that the chocolate Labrador found wandering along N.C. 53 a week ago was the same service dog Brendan was frantically searching for.

The person who found Beau, a woman who lives three miles down the highway from Brendan, and who has several dogs of the same breed as Beau, wished to remain anonymous for her simple act.

“I saw his picture in the paper, and I just wanted to be a good citizen,” the person who found Beau said Saturday

(A front-page article in Saturday’s Star-News chronicled the search for the dog).

For Brendan and his mother, Kim Tarantino, Beau’s return brought unimaginable joy.

“I’m doing really well now – I’ve got Beau,” Brendan said as he petted and prodded the dog on his front porch at his home near Malpass Corner on N.C. 53 outside Burgaw.

Beau is more than a pet – he’s a certified service dog that helps Brendan get through the severe anxiety disorder he’s been diagnosed with. The anxiety, which causes Brendan to become hyperactive, requires daily medication, but it’s the dog’s presence that helps Brendan maintain an even keel, his mother said. When Brendan gets anxious, the dog senses his master’s mood, licks him gently and puts his paws on Brendan to calm him, said Tarantino, a nurse.

“He’s been fed, and he’s also gotten some treats today,” Brendan said as he played with the dog in his yard.

The dog had bolted from home through an opening in a window after Brendan and his mother left him March 14 to visit Brendan’s sister in Wilmington.

For Tarantino, the dog’s safe return is “an answer to a prayer,” and she again thanked the woman who returned Beau to Brendan. Tarantino said she had to insist the woman take the $50 reward offered for the dog’s return.

“After she found him, she said she didn’t want to put an ad in the paper because chocolate Labs are so valuable. Anyone could have claimed him,” she said.