There are many stories of dogs travelling long distances to find their way back home. However, there are not many that travel over 10,000 miles to a different continent. Pipsqueak, a little dachshund, had to be left in North Carolina while her family flew home to Australia during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic in March. Pip lived aboard a boat with the Eilbeck family, parents Zoe and Guy, and their two sons Cam and Max, who were spending four years sailing around the world on their yacht. They were docked in Hilton Head, South Carolina when it became apparent that the would need to fly home to Australia quickly before the borders were closed.
Pip joined the family on their round the world trip, when they bought her while in Italy. They knew they wouldn’t be able to take her home with them immediately because of the strict quarantine laws that Australia has in place. At the time this did not seem like a big problem because they thought that they would be able to return in around six weeks time to resume their sailing trip. They had a friend in North Carolina who was happy to take Pip in while they were away. This meant that Zoe had to hire a car and drive eight hours to drop her off. However, nothing about their plan turned out the way they imagined it. The biggest issue they faced was the fact that all international travel pretty much came to a stand still during April and May. The family knew that there was no way they were going to be able to get back to the United States in order to complete their journey to Australia by boat.
Their friend that was looking after Pipsqueak was also unable to keep her any longer because she had dogs of her own. According to Rocky The Traveller the friend put out an ad to see if anyone else was able to look after the little dog. This ad was answered by Ellen Steinberg who was happy to look after Pip until she could somehow by reunited with her family. They Eilbecks decided that the best course of action to take was try to get all the paperwork completed that would allow Pip to be able to fly to Australia, but this would require a lot of help from Ellen, and ultimately other people and organizations that were all based in the United States.
The process of getting all the documentation ready in the US was also impacted by Covid-19. A large part of the paperwork needed to be completed in New York, but offices were not open because the whole state was in lockdown. The blood tests that were needed to prove that Pip did not have rabies also had to be carried out in New York. Ellen was having to visit her local vet on a weekly basis and back in Australia, Zoe was trying to get all the paperwork completed that would allow Pip to fly back home. Pip also needed to go to another foster home during this period, because Ellen needed to go and visit her family. She spent some time in the care of Stacey Green before it looked as if they would finally be able to get her back home. There was a flight available from LA to Auckland where Pip could be accompanied by Jetpets. The final piece of the puzzle was to find someone that would be able to fly from North Carolina to Los Angeles with Pip.
This is where Melissa Young stepped in. Pip needed to be accompanied because airlines do not allow pets to fly in the cargo hold during the summer months when the temperatures can get too hot. Young works for the rescue organization The Sparky Foundation, and once she heard the story she knew she had to help in any way she could. She took two flights, from Greensboro to Charlotte, and then Charlotte to LA, with Pip in a special bag that went under her seat. When Pip finally boarded the plane to Auckland, all of the families that had been involved in her journey so far were watching on a flight tracker app to make sure she reached her destination safely. The Eilbeck family feel as if they have made friends for life with all those that have helped take care of Pip. After quarantining in Auckland, she was able to fly to Melbourne.
Curly Tales report that even when Pip reached Australia, her journey home was still not complete. When she arrived in Melbourne, the borders between Victoria and New South Wales were already closed. This meant she was unable to get to Sydney. Luckily, Zoe’s brother lives in Melbourne and he was able to take her in. By this time, Pip’s story had been picked up by the local media and Virgin Australia stepped in to fly Pip home to Sydney. By now there were people all over the world that were waiting anxiously for an outcome to the story. Pip had stayed with three different foster carers and been accompanied on her first flight by Melissa Young.
The Eilbeck family were finally reunited with Pipsqueak on August 11, almost five months after they had seen her last. They were a little worried that she may have forgotten them, but she came running as soon as she heard their voices and it was a very emotional reunion. Zoe Eilbeck told CNN that the family’s sailing adventure has had to be put on hold for now. International sailing is just too difficult in the current climate. Their yacht remains in North Carolina and they took the decision to put it up for sale. The home they live in now is on Scotland Island, so they still have a small boat which they use to get to the shore. This is something that Pip enjoys because she loves being aboard a boat. They hope that one day they will be able to resume their trip, but for now the family are just happy that they are all back together again.