visit_church_hill

Pippa’s Church Hill Visit, the Full Story of a Lost Dog and an Inspiring Community

02/21/2018 6:00 AM by

Jessica shared the heart wrenching story of her search for Pippa, a Pit Bull pup lost while visiting our town.  Great job folks, we live in an inspiring community. Jess writes:

This is a story that, if you heard it from anyone else, you wouldn’t believe it. Heck, I don’t even believe it. This is a story about a lot of things: love, compassion, empathy, hope, community, and so much more. This is a story, a real and truthful story, about Pippa the Pit Bull.

On a Thursday afternoon in mid-February, my husband, Daniel, and I traveled to Richmond, Virginia from Eastern North Carolina for my husband to be in his best friend’s wedding. We were excited to find a large enough house on Airbnb to share not only with my in-laws, but also with our babies: Honey Bee the Great Dane, and Pippa Shortstocking the Pitbull. Thursday night was uneventful enough at the East Marshall Airbnb. Daniel went to a wild and crazy bachelor party that was full of go-cart racing and good friends, while I stayed at the house with the dogs. Daniel came in safely that night, and we went to bed peacefully.

Daniel was setting up decor at the venue all day the next day. I stayed back to finish up some work and welcome in his parents. Later that evening I met up with Daniel at a dinner for the wedding party, and his parents met up with some friends from college. Again, pretty uneventful. The weekend was shaping up to be a relaxing celebration of our friends joining together in love. See, I’m a bit of an eater. I eat keto and do intermittent fasting, which means if I’m still hungry after a meal, I will eat again if it’s in my eating period. So, after the dinner, I decided to have a second dinner at Five Guys just down the road. Daniel went on back to the house, with me just a few minutes behind him. As I was waiting for my burger to come out, I saw that I had a missed call from my mother in law. When I called her back, she didn’t answer. I figured it was just her butt calling me, but I still texted her to make sure everything was alright. One minute later, I received a terrifying call from my husband,

“Pippa got out. My mom opened the door, and Pippa got out.”

My heart sank, and my mind went racing. Pippa is our scared dog. After being abused as a breeder dog for the first three years of her life thens being dumped at a shelter after her
“breeder” decided to go to bulldogs…yeah, who can blame her for being scared of people? “Rushing” doesn’t explain how quickly I got to the house. All I can say is that I’m glad i-95 didn’thave many cops around that night.

I leapt from the car and was immediately met by my mother-in-law. “Where’s Daniel and Bee?”, I asked, more focused than when I took the GRE. “He’s down there!”, she pointed down the street. I immediately started calling out for Pippa with her signature call as I ran to meet my husband. You know that “Soooo-WEEEE” sound that people make when they’re calling for pigs? Well. That’s what we have for Pippa, but it’s “PeeeeYIIIIIIPYIPYIPYIP”. Making her call, Daniel and I set out with Bee through the streets and parks of Richmond. As I was walking, some neighbors came out of their houses to see what was going on. As I told the neighbors about our little lost dog, they all but collapsed with empathy and concern, then armed me with ample resources to find sweet Pippa. A close friend put up a Craigslist ad within minutes. As I went back to the house about an hour later, still making her call, “PeeeeeYIPYIPYIPYIP”, another neighbor came out of the house right next door to our Airbnb. It turns out that this neighbor, Monica, is the owner of Mother of the Mop, a professional dog sitting/loving business, and was well connected with pet services, news sources, and the community in general. She informed me that the name of the community we were staying in was Church Hill, and that they loved their dogs. I had no idea what this community was capable of, but I soon found out in abundance. With Monica’s help, Pippa’s sweet mugshot began to spread. Pippa’s sweet face was plastered all over Facebook within a matter of hours, as well as Church Hill People’s News, and a Facebook group called Church Hill Neighborhood. Nevertheless, we went to bed on Friday night with fifty less pounds.

As I woke up on Saturday, I was greeted with Facebook messages like I couldn’t believe. “Have you tried RACC?”, “We’re looking for her now! Is she wearing a collar?”, “My pups and I are walking around Libby Hill now. We’ll keep an eye out!” The support of the Church Hill community was just starting to show its true strength. I went by Richmond Animal Care and Control. No luck. Filed a report, and left hopeful from the immense amount of empathy and love that the staff of RACC exuded. The same happened at Henrico. Love, support, and a report filed, but no luck. I went to the wedding holding back tears, but still keeping hope. Halfway through the reception I received a call that someone had seen a black and white pitbull on 25th street. Daniel and I immediately set out again, only to find a sweet little black and white pitbull without a leash, who belonged to a man only feet away. Distraught, we went to bed again without Pippa.

Sunday came, and we went back home to North Carolina. Daniel and I were taking turns on breaking down, screaming, and sobbing into each other’s arms. Although we were worn down, the city of Richmond and neighborhood of Church Hill was alive and buzzing with the face of our little grey and white baby. By Sunday night, her post on Facebook had reached almost a thousand shares. A member of Carolina Adopt-A-Bulls, the rescue we got her from, made a flier to circulate throughout the local veterinarians and shelters. Monday morning came. At this point, Pippa had been missing for a little over two days. I took the day off of work to manage the Facebook posts (and anxiety attacks) and to continue calling around Richmond. By Monday afternoon, Pippa’s post had reached well over a thousand shares across multiple sites. People who I’d never met were messaging me with more and more suggestions, well-wishes, and requests for updates. “We’re walking around with our dogs now! We’ll keep an eye out”, “You’ve got a village behind you”, and, “We’re putting up fliers in the area now.”

More and more support emerged from loving strangers. Slowly we started to have some leads leak through about a small pit mix around 29th street near Libby Hill. By Tuesday afternoon, we had heard enough reports of a possible sighting to believe that this little pit mix could be our Pippa. On a whim and trusting my gut, I posted on the Facebook page for Church Hill Neighborhood that I was coming in to town that night. Within minutes there was a reply, “If you need somewhere to stay please let me know!” Without knowing who this person was, their background, or any little thing, I immediately replied. After a long drive to Richmond, Bee and I arrived at Dena Sussman’s house to stay the night. She welcomed us with literal open arms, and made herself available to anything my pup and I needed. Bee and I went looking for Pippa that night. As I walked around Libby Hill I was overwhelmed by what I saw: dog bowls of food and water, fliers for her, and other people walking their dogs in search of her. I was brought to tears as I left her kibble around the area. After a few hours of searching, I went back Dena’s house for a quick four hour nap beside Bee.

Wednesday morning came slower than I had expected. I thought for sure that I would want to wake up and immediately set out on my search. However, an overwhelming feeling came over me, encouraging me to sit and say Saint Anthony’s prayer, along with a kundalini m

antra for finding lost things. As a Kundalini yogini, I listened, and did exactly what my intuition told me to do. After it felt right, I set out, Great Dane in tow, to find my Pippa. Her last sighting was at 29th and Grace street; so, I parked my car right there. As I began calling for her, I saw a woman walking a gaggle of dogs towards me. She waved, and I realized that it was Monica. We met on the walkway in between the woods and the park on 29th and Grace. Monica then asked me if anyone had told me about the local topography.

After I told her no, she informed me that there was one park over here, another over there, and an abandoned area in between called Sugar Bottom. “I don’t know, but if I were a dog, I would go there.” I welcomed her knowledge, parked my car, and set out to the space in between.

Almost as soon as I parked my car in front of Libby Hill, my Great Dane became excited. I led her out, and she all but dragged me down one of the steepest hills I’ve ever seen as a street. Nose to the ground, she led me to a fenced-off abandoned factory. She was bound and determined to go through that fence; so, we walked around it. She continued to drag me through one of the most destitute spaces in Church Hill. I saw and felt no life. Not even a bird or bug. Even so, Bee persisted. She dragged me down to the end of the factory where we were greeted by a concrete overpass that was about 10 feet tall. We walked under cautiously, minding the puddles and tall grass. I called out for Pippa, contemplating my next move in finding her, and calculating how long I would stay in Richmond before heading back. I turned ever so slightly to return up the hill, when I was all but pushed to the ground by a littlegrey and white furry bullet.

It was Pippa. Oh my God, it was Pippa. I fell down to hold her, hugging her as she wiggled and whined around in excitement. All I could say was “Oh my God”. She was healthy. Skinny and scraped, but healthy and happy to see her family again. The story of community doesn’t stop here. I took a picture in all of my tears, and sent it around. I had to let everyone know that their labor had been fruitful. I then called my husband, cried with him, called my mother, texted my mother-in-law, then called Monica. Somewhere along the way, I updated the Facebook post that had reached over a few thousand shares. Monica immediately sprung to action, and said “I’ll meet you at your car”. And sure enough, she beat me there. I fed and watered Pippa, wanting to give her more, but realizing that she could get sick from eating too much too quickly. Dena called me within minutes, crying and excited. I asked them both which vet to take her to. Not only did they both give recommendations, but they called around to see which one could take her in. Monica landed on Fan Animal Hospital, only 15 minutes away. I drove off with Pippa and Bee, praying and hoping that Pippa didn’t have a silent bug.

Fan Animal Hospital was caring, loving, and attentive to our situation. Pippa was in good health, besides a couple of ticks and scrapes. They gave her antibiotics, and sent us on our way to a recommended self-serve dog bath. Pet Value was phenomenal. Their facilities were superb, and their staff was so caring and attentive. After both dogs received a bath, we met up with Dena, and headed back to North Carolina. Pippa slept the whole way back, and snuggled in between my husband and I that night. After five long days, we finally had our Pippa Short stocking home.

I continue to receive messages and comments from people saying how glad, relieved, and excited they are that she is home. Monica sent me a picture the next day of her throwing away the now-unnecessary fliers for a lost Pippa. The love of this community has no limits, and I am forever thankful for the support that everyone has given to me and my family. I would like to thank the entire community of Church Hill, particularly Monica Schiefer, Dena Sussman, the Church Hill People’s News, the Church Hill Neighborhood Facebook group, my mother, my husband, my mother-in-law, my boss, Valu Pet, and Fan Animal Hospital. If it weren’t for each and every one of you, we wouldn’t have our Pippa back. I am convinced that she stayed in the area because she knew she was loved.

She is now home. She is safe. She is healthy. She is energetic.

She is Pippa Shortstocking, the Queen of the Hill.
Thank you.


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