Real Life

REAL LIFE: This little dog travelled the world then waited five months to see her owners again

This is one well travelled pooch!

By Mitchell Jordan
Zoe Eilbeck, 46, from Sydney, NSW shares her dachshund Pip's amazing journey with Take 5's Mitchell Jordan:
Pictures of adorable dachshunds were plastered around the cabin, waiting to catch the attention of my husband, Guy, who was still asleep.
Once he woke, they would be the first thing he'd see.
"How could you say no to this?" I asked.
Bombarding him with dachshund photos each morning was all part of my plan to win him over and let our family welcome one into our lives.
Two years ago, we'd traded our old life in Sydney to buy a yacht and sail the world.
Life on the water was bliss: we were finally free of the 9-to-5 grind and our two children enjoyed getting to see the world while being home-schooled.
But one day, when we stopped at a port in Greece, the kids looked at the kittens on the dock.
"Can we please have a pet?" they asked.
Travelling the world gave us many adventures. (Image: supplied)
Guy and I were hesitant at first, but after some thought it made sense that living on a boat would be the best time to welcome an animal into our lives – we would be with it 24/7 and could give it plenty of attention.
We decided a dog would be better-suited to sea life.
After doing some research about what it would take to bring a dog back home to Australia as we sailed back, I decided a dachshund would make the ideal pet.
They were low to the ground, easy to transport, good boat security and loving, intelligent dogs.
Guy hadn't had a little dog before and took some convincing.
But my cute photos eventually worked their magic and we headed to a town in Sicily to meet a breeder who had some miniature dachshunds.
And the minute we laid eyes on the brown pup, we knew she was the one for us.
We fell in love with Pip straight away. (Image: supplied)
"Her name's Penelope Cruz," the breeder said in Italian, explaining how such a beautiful dog deserved to be named after someone equally gorgeous.
We changed her name to Pipsqueak – or Pip for short – and welcomed her onto the boat.
The first few days with Pip saw us encounter some rough weather, but she took it all in her stride.
The kids fell in love with her instantly.
Guy also turned the heads of many locals.
"There's a giant with a little dog," many of the Italians said, amused.
Pip was never far from our side, even accompanying us to museums and galleries.
Pip came with us everywhere. (Image: supplied)
Our sails saw us cross the Atlantic Ocean to the United States, and then we decided to sail home to Australia.
But when COVID-19 hit, it became complicated: we had to get on a flight quickly as borders around the world were closing fast.
Problem was, we couldn't take Pip.
After much discussion, Guy and I decided that we would have to leave her with a friend while we flew home.
Handing our dog over was utterly heartbreaking.
It'll only be for a couple of weeks, I told myself.
But, like most people, we underestimated the situation and, to complicate things, Pip soon had to go to a new foster carer named Ellen, who we'd never even met.
We had to leave behind life on the boat. When would we see Pip again? (Image: supplied)
Back in Australia, it soon became clear we wouldn't be able to travel overseas for some time.
"We need to get Pip home," I said to Guy.
The whole family missed her terribly, but flights to Australia were slim, let alone ones willing to take a dog.
Months passed and we celebrated Pip's birthday with her over Zoom.
Ellen took good care of her and, eventually, we found a woman named Melissa, who ran a dog rescue centre.
She was willing to fly Pip across America to Los Angeles, then to New Zealand.
From there, she would fly to Melbourne and stay in quarantine for 10 days.
It was all very stressful.
We planned to drive down and collect her.
"Poor Pip," I said to Guy. "We can't possibly put her on another flight."
But on the last day of quarantine, all of Melbourne went into lockdown.
We missed having Pip with us. (Image: supplied)
We were devastated to have got so close, only to have Pip still across a closed border.
Luckily, my brother lives in Melbourne, so Pip stayed with him and his four kids for the next month, until the lockdown was over and she could fly home to Sydney.
Now, Pip's five-month journey had made the news all over the world and camera crews were waiting at the airport to capture the moment.
But we were worried.
"What if Pip doesn't remember us?" the kids asked sadly.
Back in Australian waters with our dog. (Image: supplied)
It had been so long and she'd been through so much – our life on the boat might be just a distant memory for our little girl.
So, on the way to the airport, we stopped at Ikea and bought some hot dogs to be sure she'd come to us.
We needn't have bothered because as soon as the Virgin cabin crew brought Pip off the plane, she ran straight to us with excitement.
We all cried with joy: after five months, we had our little girl back!
We've since sold our boat and don't plan on travelling again for some time.
Pip's done some big kays and, while it was a great experience to see the world, nothing beats being at home with our dog.
Pip's story features on the podcast, Love Is A Doxie.
Zoe's story features on Love Is A Doxie, a podcast for dog-lovers, available on Apple and Spotify.
Follow Pip's adventures on her Instagram @noplans.justoptions

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