Zoe and Guy Eilbeck first met Pipsqueak the dachshund in Sicily, adopting her as their companion while they lived on a sailboat. She joined them on many adventures, traveling to seventeen countries in total while crossing the Atlantic. When COVID-19 hit however, the family’s life rapidly changed, and they were suddenly forced to return to Australia, leaving Pip in the care of a friend in North Carolina. Thankfully, she has just been reunited with her family after an epic journey that took many months and saw strangers stepping in to lend a hand.
Back in March, Zoe, Guy, and children Cam and Max had limited time to get to Sydney when Australia announced that borders were closing. They docked their boat in the US and returned, devastated to have to not have time to arrange Pip’s passage. The nearby animal shelter was closed down due to restrictions, making things even more complicated, but a dog-loving local woman named Ellen Steinberg stepped in to provide a home for Pip while logistics could be sorted out.
“Ellen gave Pip unconditional love for three months and taught her how to live in a house, not an easy feat for a sailing dog who is used to very different conditions! Her kindness was incredible. Daily updates on Pip and help getting her ready to export to Australia as it quickly became clear we could not return to the USA easily,” Zoe told Lonely Planet.
Pip made regular vet appointments to be checked for travel. There was paperwork, blood tests and vaccinations. Zoe was up at 4am most mornings in order to ring the USA to get updates. The next challenge was the travel itself. The plan was to fly Pip to Los Angeles, so the family put out a plea on social media to see if anyone was going from the east to the West Coast. The post was seen almost 20,000 times and many offers came in to help. A volunteer was found, and Pip managed to make the trip to LA happily. She was even put up in a king-sized bed in a hotel overnight upon arrival. After that she flew to Auckland before flying to Australia, but the dramatic journey wasn’t over yet.
Pipsqueak entered a standard ten-day quarantine, being watched by vets and biosecurity staff to ensure she did not pose a risk, but the night before her release and planned flight to Sydney, Melbourne went into a hard lockdown. To make matters worse, the freight terminal shut down, making Pip’s flight impossible. At this point, Zoe’s brother Rob who lives in Melbourne stepped in to take Pip while they hatched a new plan. “Flights were booked, cancelled and rebooked all week and things were looking dire. The border between New South Wales and Victoria also closed so we could not even drive the 12 hours to get her.
Result!! She’s home! Can’t quite believe we did it, and what a journey little Pip has been on. That empty dogbed finally has a sausage in it!! Enormous thanks to Virgin Cargo , the Sydney Morning Herald and Channel 9 for working tirelessly over the last few days to make this happen tonight. Our tiny puppy is home at last and arrived to great attention with no less than 4 media crew there and cheers from her now FIVE foster caters on Whatsapp even though it was 4am in the USA! Everyone in this house will sleep extremely well tonight. Thanks for following her journey to date. Island adventures await. #goodgirlpip #homeatlast #adventuredog #family #wedidit #virginaustralia #virgincargo #smh #dachshund #celebritydachshund #homesweethome #pipishere #noplansjustoptions
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Thankfully, at this point national media coverage about Pip’s grand adventure had built up, the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper and Virgin Airlines came to the family’s rescue. After another week (and 136 days total) Pip arrived in Sydney to be reunited with the Eilbecks.
“Our greatest learning has also been the most joyous - the kindness of strangers is alive and well in the world today. We could not have got our puppy here without many, many people's help and everyone did it because they loved dogs and wanted to help us get our smallest crew member home to her family,” Zoe told Lonely Planet.