In the early morning of May 1, a southeastern Tennessee couple named Julie Thornton Johnson and Jimmy Johnson woke up to find a fluffy intruder sleeping in bed with them.
Julie got up around 4:00 a.m. and noticed a dog was in their bed, but she didn’t think anything of it because their three hounds—Jupiter, Hollis, and Zeppelin—like sleeping on the bed. So, she went back to sleep.
But as the light shone through their window at around 6:30 a.m., Jimmy woke up to a start.
“Julie, whose dog is this?” he asked in a quiet but stern voice.
Julie rolled over and looked at her husband—both of them having just realized that the red nose pitbull-labrador mix sandwiched between them wasn’t theirs.
Initially, Julie feared someone else had broken into the house, but she soon realized that the pup was just looking for refuge.
“We knew that she was of absolute no harm to us or our dogs,” she said. “She was just looking for a safe place. So, it totally turned into a comical, ‘Let’s take some photos with Nala.’”
The couple snapped a couple of photos of their hilarious situation, and Julie shared the story on Facebook.
“This is the weirdest post I have ever had to make,” she wrote in the caption. “Is this your dog?”
The pup wasn’t wearing a collar, so the Johnsons didn’t know her name. But within an hour of posting, Julie received a message from someone who claimed Nala was their dog.
Wanting to make sure it was the right person, Julie asked if she could prove she was the owner. The woman then sent Christmas and Easter pictures and plenty of photos with Nala.
Nala’s owners, Felecia Johnson and Cris Hawkins, said that the dog had slipped out of her collar the night before while Felecia’s dad took her for a walk.
Nala ran into the woods, and he tried to get her, but the dog decided to play a game of tag. Later that night, the pup returned home but refused to come back inside, so Felecia and Cris decided to wait until the morning, thinking she would stay close.
But as it turns out, Nala went on an adventure of her own.
How she snuck into the couple’s home still remains unclear, but Julie suspects that Nala might have just pushed a door open while looking for a place to stay during the thunderstorm that night. Jimmy had taken their three dogs outside before bed, and she thinks the front door was left slightly ajar.
Felecia came to pick up Nala, but it took a while before the dog was convinced to go home.
“She’s almost as big as I am, but since she’s been a puppy, I carry her on my hip like she’s a little kid,” she said. “And now that she’s grown, she’s still expects me to do that. It’s a lot harder now, but I had to carry this big dog out of (Julie and Jimmy’s) house. If it wasn’t crazy enough. … I had to carry her out like a child.”
A few days after Nala’s impromptu sleepover, the families went on a fun puppy play date in Julie and Jimmy’s yard with all four dogs, who enjoyed some vanilla ice cream and treats.
“The four of us could not even believe the attention this story has gotten and how one dog has brought the four of us together,” Julie said. “The eight of us, actually — four humans and four dogs — into, I hope, a friendship.”
Check out the video below from CBS News for more on this adorable story.