Once Lost, Now Found: Piper's Story



On the rare occasion Piper would escape in pursuit of an irresistible squirrel, she inevitably appeared sitting on the front porch as if she’d planned a casual afternoon outing.  After a particularly persistent and odd series of escape attempts in June 2012, this arthritic senior golden retriever/chow mix never returned to her Loveland, Colorado home.

Lost Hope

As months progressed without a trace, and because of Piper’s advanced age and noticeable limp, pet parent Mellie Test assumed Piper had passed over. In November of 2012, Mellie agreed to take a new job in Philadelphia, moving across the country with her young son and two remaining dogs.

While living near Fort Knox years earlier, Mellie lost her faith in microchips when her sister-in-law’s pup disappeared. Shelter after shelter stated that with limited space, they wouldn’t hold a dog for more than a couple of days, so they didn’t even bother to scan for microchips. 

A Life Saved by a Microchip

In November 2013, a year and a half after her disappearance, Piper’s microchip saved her life.

On Monday, November 4, the Larimer Humane Society in Fort Collins, Colorado, scanned Piper’s microchip and located Piper’s once-co-parent in Leesburg, Virginia. Piper had been living in Leesburg with Mellie’s ex  prior to re-joining Mellie and her son in 2009. Larimer Humane reported that Piper was “in bad shape.”  She’d been turned in by a couple who housed her for a month during the Colorado floods.   

A Race Against Time

Upon receiving the news, Mellie requested further clarification. The Humane Society described Piper as having multiple tumors along with hip dysplasia. With her senior status and potential medical issues, they frankly admitted that her chances of adoption seemed slim. Within 3-5 days, Larimer Humane would decide whether euthanasia was the more humane option.

Every few hours, Mellie frantically scoured the Larimer Humane website, hoping to find an update on her sweet senior dog. Flying out to Colorado on short notice was no option for a single mom caring for a toddler and two additional dogs. She felt helpless. She’d already reached out to friends in Colorado, hoping to find a contact at a shelter who could temporarily take Piper in until another solution could be found.

On Thursday, November 7, Mellie noticed a new dog posted in the “Adoptable Dogs” section of the Larimer Humane website. This dog, named “Lucky,” was listed as an 8-year-old golden retriever mix. While Piper’s actual age is closer to 12, the face in the photo was undeniably Piper’s!

Mellie immediately created a post on Facebook, linking to Piper’s new listing. She tagged a few of her most dog-loving friends in Loveland, Fort Collins, and Denver, hoping to find someone (or someone who knew someone) to help. Numerous friends responded, linking Mellie to even more locals.

A New Home for “Lucky”

Mellie’s biggest hope came from two friends, one of whom was Chloe DiVita (COE of BlogPaws, the pet blogging and social media resource). Both friends offered to pay Larimer Humane’s adoption fee if she could find a temporary or permanent home.

Cristin Altepeter, a friend of Mellie’s from Loveland, gave the possibility serious thought. She decided to pay “Lucky” a visit on Saturday, November 9. Cristin was thinking that Piper might be a good “old lady friend” for her 13-year-old senior dog, Kia. 

After meeting “Lucky” and having “Lucky” successfully meet Kia, Cristin texted Mellie that her decision was made. Piper would have a home! Larimer Humane was able to coordinate Chloe’s payment of the adoption fee, and Cristin took Piper to the car.

Since Saturday, Piper’s been walked, fed, and given much love. She even received the “grand tour” of her new home by Cristin’s daughter, Eden.

After a year and a half, Piper is “home.” If only that microchip could talk…

Piper's New Home