Seventeen months after Delta Dawn’s disappearance, Amanda Williams admits she had lost hope.

“I had a gut feeling I would never see her again,” Williams said of the Boston terrier that turns 7 today at the Rhodes Drive home where she lived until she was 5 and scooted out an open gate.

Described by Williams as “a little bit hyper,” Delta was welcomed home last week by Williams, husband Johnny, daughter Alex, 4, and Labrador mix Dixie, also 4.

Her son Tanner, 9, is away at summer camp. Williams said she called to tell him the news, and he could hardly believe it.

When Delta went missing in February 2006, her family posted fliers, advertised in the newspaper and even called a radio station.

Her two children mourned, but Amanda Williams said she took the loss hardest.

“For me, it was like losing one of them,” she said.

On Thursday, Delta came home. Williams picked her up from a woman who told her the dog had been rescued from abuse.

The woman, Donna Johnson, had placed an ad in The Vicksburg Post, saying she found a Boston terrier. Williams’ mother, Carmen Rouse, saw the ad, called Johnson, and was convinced the dog was Delta Dawn.

Williams, a nurse at Vicksburg Convalescent Home, was leaving work Wednesday when she got the call from her mother.

“I think I’ve found Delta,” she said.

Williams started crying.

Johnson, 52, of Dudley Road, had taken the dog last Sunday from Redbone Road after a fellow member of Wayside Baptist Church contacted her about a dog she had seen being mistreated.

“She called and told me she was afraid for the dog,” said Johnson, who owns two Boston terriers.

Johnson said that when she found the dog, she could tell it was in poor health.

“It was thin and its stomach was tucked in and its back was hunched up,” she said. “Wherever she had been for a year, she had not been loved and cared for like she should have.”

The people she found the dog with said it had wandered up a few days earlier, and allowed Johnson to take it home with her.

“That dog nearly broke its neck running to the van,” Johnson said. “It didn’t even know who I was.”

Johnson took the dog home and placed the ad.

“That’s one special lady,” Amanda Williams said. “I don’t know what I’m going to do to thank her.”

When Williams and her mother arrived at Johnson’s house on Thursday to look at the dog, Delta Dawn had become so thin that Williams did not even recognize her. “She told her mother, ‘Oh, look how bad she looks! How can that be Delta?’” Johnson said.

Delta had dropped from 19 pounds to 9.

Williams could be sure it was Delta, though, because of discoloration in her left eye from surgery.

“When she got back to the house, when she got to the backyard she sniffed every corner of the fence,” Johnson said. “Her first night home she curled up in the bed with me.”

Williams said she doesn’t know where Delta has been, and doesn’t want to know. She’s just glad she’s home.

The dog has been eating well and resting since being home. For her seventh birthday today, Delta will get a steak, Williams said.