Hope was first seen outside their house attending the wedding of her mother, Laura, and stepfather, Bob. Peter hands a frog to his brother, Jamie, who puts it in the hand of their sister, who freaks out and drops the frog on the ground, causing Jamie to burst out laughing. Hope then hears a crash coming from inside the house. It turns out it was only a lampshade being knocked down by Chance, Jamie's pet dog, who has been annoyed by Sassy, Hope's pet cat. Peter and Shadow are playing basketball and witness Sassy being catapult from the seesaw into a sandbox by Chance and he and Jamie burst out laughing at Sassy's misfortune. This causes Hope to call Chance a stupid dog and report it to their mother.
After the wedding, Hope and her family go to the farm owned by their friend Kate, where they leave Shadow, Chance, and Sassy to be looked after by Kate's ranch hand, Frank. At home, Peter gets a call from Kate who then tells him that Shadow wants to talk to him and so he did. He is again seen at the school drawing Shadow during the class.
A few days later, Hope and her family learned that Shadow, Chance, and Sassy are no longer on the farm from Kate and her ranch hand Frank, due to them having left the farm to return back home. Jamie and Hope are weeping at this, while Peter was upset and their father refuses to go out to look for them and have to be patient and wait until any word from the forest rangers.
Their father later received a call from the forest rangers that they finally found Shadow, Sassy, and Chance, who helped a lost girl named Molly who also been looking by her parents. He and Peter then report it to Laura, Hope, and picking Jamie up who is in the middle of practice of a play and on their way to the shelter where they are currently held and Chance gets a medical treatment due to getting his muzzle pin by a porcupine. However, they already escaped by the time they arrived due to Chance mistaken the shelter for a pound. The shelter staff apologizes to the Seavers for failing to stop Shadow, Chance, and Sassy from escaping, and the Seavers sadly return home.
By dusk, while playing basketball Hope begins to accept Bob as a second father figure and, Jamie hears Chance barking in the distance and calls out for him. Sassy then arrives shortly after and runs up to Hope. Chance and Sassy finally arrive and reunite with their owners, except for Shadow having fallen into a muddy pit at the train yard and Peter laments that Shadow is too old to make it back home. But Shadow appears in the distance limping (having injured his leg from the fall and made out of the muddy pit) having caught up to Chance and Sassy and is happily reunited with Peter and they play together.
Years later since the last time the children were seen, Hope and her brothers have grown up and live in San Francisco. Peter and his family are getting ready for their family trip to Canada.
At the airport, Hope and her family put Sassy, Shadow, and Chance their cages before they are ready to board the plane. In the plane, Hope rides silently with her family while Peter asks his father if Shadow, Chance, and Sassy are going to be okay, to which he replies that they are safe and sound below their feet.
However, when Hope and her family arrive at Canada, they receive word that Shadow, Sassy, and Chance had somehow escaped from their plane due to Chance escaping from his cage, mistakenly again thinking that he and the others will be take to the pound. They later called the animal authorities at San Francisco to look for Shadow, Chance, and Sassy.
Hope and her family returned home and hoping that their pets would be home. On the way, a container truck which was in front of their car suddenly skids to a stop, and Bob manages to avoid it by pressing on the brake, making their car to skid to a stop as well. Hope becomes worried while Peter asks what happened, and Bob replies it could be an accident. Hope then sees Sassy and Shadow climbing down the hill nearby, and she and her older brother reunite with their pets. Bob talks to the truck driver who apologizes and asks if anyone is okay and he replies that they are okay and what happened. The truck driver says that there was a dog in the middle of the road. They find out it was Chance, who was in the middle of the road safe and sound, and he is reunited with Jamie.
At home, Hope and her family meet and adopt a new dog named Delilah, Chance's love interest whom Shadow, Chance, and Sassy met in San Francisco while on their way back home.