HOMER, Ill., (WCIA) — After a week in the winter elements, an 8-year-old yellow lab was found 15.8 miles away from home and reunited with his family.

The Johnsons celebrated Christmas together in Homer and the next morning, they realized their beloved family dog, Kai, wasn’t there.

That’s when they took to social media, sharing photos and hoping someone would see him and help.

Josh Johnson and his dad Mike said thousands of people shared the Facebook post every day. So many that at times, Josh had to silence his phone. People from across the country were reaching out.

They said sometimes it was hard to stay positive and are still wondering how their dog got out.

“The gate for his dog pen is locked, every door is locked at night,” Johnson said. “We don’t know if he snuck out while we were trying to load our gifts up in our vehicles when we were leaving.”

He said Kai had never run away before. The day after Christmas, the family woke up surprised, not sure where Kai went.

“My parents, who have the dog sleeping on the bed with them, kind of thought he was down there with my niece. She thought he was upstairs with them sleeping,” Johnson said.

Right away, he took to social media to help solve the mystery.

“I just posted a picture of him and said that our dog’s out; if anybody happens to see him, please let us know. I posted our phone numbers and everything,” Johnson added. “It got to the point where I had to turn my phone on silent because about 1,200 shares later, and comments, everybody was kind of sharing it all over Facebook.”

Rebecca Jones saw the post shared and knew to keep her eyes peeled.

“I was driving down the road just south of Philo and I saw him. I immediately knew that it was Kai, the missing dog,” Jones said.

She had her three young daughters with her in the car. When they saw Kai, Jones commented on the Facebook post and followed Kai along a cornfield for about 45 minutes until the Johnsons arrived.

Johnson said Kai was shaking and hesitant to come toward them at first. That quickly changed with the help of their other dog, Shadow.

“About the third or fourth time, he ran up, licked his face, and then Kai’s tail started wagging,” Johnson said.

That’s when Kai ran toward Johnson’s sister and gave her a big kiss.

In the end, Johnson said it was a miracle.

“It just couldn’t have been possible without the shares and the likes and the comments and posts,” Johnson said.

He added that people were reaching out from around the country, even as far as Georgia.

Kai is now home and doing okay. His family said even with the below-zero temperatures, wild animals and lack of food. He was not hurt.