Twitter has the power to break news, spark revolutions, and... find lost dogs. And daughters. And wedding rings. Earlier this month, an Irish Rail commuter and her Jack Russell terrier were separated when Patch the pooch accidentally hopped aboard a train from County Kildare to Dublin, nearly an hour away. Patch and his owner were happily reunited thanks to some shrewd tweeting from the rail company. Twitter has a history of helping bring about these kinds of happy endings. Here, seven cases of the social media juggernaut facilitating heartwarming reunions:
1. An Irish woman and her dog
When Patch boarded a train to Dublin without his owner Deirdre Anglin, Irish Rail workers, upon discovering the Jack Russell terrier was on board alone, sent a tweet that said, "Lost dog!" with a photo of Patch attached. The message was retweeted more than 500 times, finding its way to Anglin in less than 32 minutes. "That's my dog!" she responded using her own Twitter account. After the two were reunited, a Twitter account was created for Patch, and it will reportedly be dedicated to finding other lost dogs.
2. A Hall of Famer and his labradoodle
When baseball Hall of Famer George Brett lost his beloved pet labradoodle Charlie he turned to his fledgling Twitter account, where he posted a photo of himself with Charlie and asked if anyone who had seen the dog. "#RoyalsNation We can do this," the former Kansas City Royal tweeted. One day later, he returned to Twitter to announce that, thanks to the number of retweets, postings, and media attention his initial Twitter plea received, Charlie was found and returned.
3. A homeless man and his daughter
Daniel Morales was one of four homeless men who were given cell phones as part of the project Unheard in New York, which tries to give people a glimpse of what life is like for the homeless by giving them smartphones to tweet from. After Morales posted a photo of his daughter, Sarah Rivera, whom he hadn't seen in 11 years, a stranger who knew Sarah saw the message, reached out to her, and got her in touch with Morales. The father and daughter originally lost contact when Rivera moved from Puerto Rico to the U.S. with her mother. "I feel rejoiced," Morales said after the reunion.
4. A man and his wedding ring
Martin Wright lived every husband's nightmare when his white gold wedding ring slipped off his finger while he was disposing of cardboard boxes at a local recycling center in Shropshire, England. The piece of jewelry disappeared into the bottom of the locked receptacle. Because it was Sunday, nobody answered the contact numbers provided by the center, so Wright took to Twitter, posting a photo of the container in which he lost his ring, and pleaded with the recycling company to help him find it. Just 30 minutes later, the company called him to promise that the next day's collection would be canceled, and workers would sift through the receptacle until the ring was found. Sure enough, it was discovered in a discarded teabag box.
5. A brother and his autistic sister
When 17-year-old Janice Lewis, who is autistic, went missing in New York City after getting lost on her way home from school, her older brother, Christopher, quickly turned to Facebook and Twitter to locate her. Celebrities including rapper Talib Kweli and Sean "Diddy" Combs retweeted Lewis' photo to their followers. One Twitter user recognized the girl walking down the street in Brooklyn just over 24 hours later and called the police. "I don't even know what a tweet is," says Lewis' mother, Keri. "It's amazing how it took something I don't understand to get her home."
6. Lance Armstrong and his stolen bike
When Lance Armstrong's time-trial bike, valued at around $10,000, went missing along with a handful of his teammates' cycles in 2009, the racing legend's first course of action was to alert his 140,000 Twitter followers. "Whoa!! They just came to my room and said our truck was broken into and someone stole my time trail bike!... APB out to the twitterati." More than 900 people also signed up for a search organized on Facebook called "One Million Citizens Looking for Lance Armstrong's Stolen Bike." A few days later, Armstrong tweeted: "They recovered the bike!" Police credited the Twitter movement with keeping the "the story alive and moving."
7. Steve Nash and his "little bro"
Newly minted Los Angeles Laker Steve Nash has played for both the Dallas Mavericks and the Phoenix Suns. In 2010, when Nash was with the Suns, he returned to Dallas to play his old team, and also reunite with an old friend. "Morning! When I played in Dallas I had a little bro from Big Bro/Big Sis," Nash wrote on Twitter. "When I moved to Phx he moved houses a few times and we lost touch." Throughout the day, Nash's followers messaged back and forth with him, helping him to locate the right guy. "Thanks... for helping me find my little bro," he wrote later that afternoon. "He's coming to the game tonight."