LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) -- Rocky the German shepherd weighs 70 pounds and he looks even bigger than that. He's also fiercely loyal and protective of his family, the Juarezes, who have raised him since he was a puppy, which makes it very odd that he disappeared from his home.

"We were gone for a little bit and he was just gone," Biridiana Juarez said.

Juarez said her family came home the evening of July 22, but their usually rambunctious canine friend wasn't there to greet them. She said he had been playing in their backyard, which is fenced and gated.

"I've never seen him, and my mom has never seen him get out by himself," she said. "You've got to open the gate to let him in and out."

His disappearance raised red flags. Juarez said she believes someone had opened the gate and taken Rocky.

More: Dog returned to family after missing for 3 weeks

"There's no way he went out an hour and a half out of his way to some random place," she said.

Juarez and her family immediately started searching for Rocky, but as the sun went down, they found no sign of their 2-year-old pup.

"That night, we got in our cars and just went up and down every road possible and the neighborhood across that way, we went that way," she said. "And I asked a bunch of people who were just outside, and they hadn't seen her."

The days turned into weeks and hope started to dwindle until earlier this week when Juarez got a call from the Breckinridge County Animal Shelter, 70 miles from their home.

"They were saying they found Rocky and that they had scanned him with a chip, which I didn't even know he had a chip," she said.

It was that microchip that helped the animal shelter find the Juarezes' address and phone number.

"If he didn't have a microchip, he would have been just another random dog at the vet," she said. "They would have scanned him, and they would find nothing."

Three weeks and 70 miles later, Rocky is now back in Louisville and back to his old, energetic self. His family is thankful for that tiny little chip that helped them bring their big furry friend back home.

â–ºContact reporter Dennis Ting at dting@whas11.com. Follow him on Twitter (@DennisJTing) and Facebook.