The emotional moment a Vancouver family reunites with their tiny Yorkie mix after she survived 17 long days alone and miles from home.
A Vancouver family emotionally reunited with their tiny Yorkie mix last week after 17 days of endlessly searching for their missing pup.
Chilli, a 6-year-old Yorkie and Chihuahua mix weighing less than 5lb, went missing after getting spooked by other dogs during a walk in Vancouver's Pacific Spirit Park.
Despite being on her own for 17 days, the brave pup managed to not only survive, but also to find a way home to her loving family.
Against all odds, Chilli's owner Sienna Leone and her family never once gave up hope that their beloved pup would come home, and were ecstatic when she was found near Granville Street and Southwest Marine Drive — 7km from where she was last seen in the park.
"It's truly a miracle that she was able to survive," admits owner Sienna. "We were so worried about her being alone out there with her no food, and obviously the danger of racoons, coyotes and cars was always in the back of my mind. But we just knew that she'd make it back to us."
Chilli went missing at 6:30pm on August 31 during a family walk in Pacific Spirit Park after getting spooked by a barking altercation between the family's other dog and a neighbour's. Sienna's parents chased Chilli the full 3km back to entrance, but the little dog was so frightened she even outran a marathon runner who offered to help catch her.
From the moment she went missing, Sienna and her heartbroken family did everything they could to try to find their precious pup, including hundreds of posters and even hiring to a dog physic.
"We didn’t leave the park the night she went missing until about 1:45am in the morning," recalls Sienna who enlisted the help of her best friends, their parents, and her whole family to search the park and surrounding areas.
"From then on, for 17 days straight, we dedicated all our time to finding her. We spent countless late nights and early mornings in the park and surrounding neighbourhoods rattling cookie bags, leaving Chilli's kennel out in the park where she was last sighted, leaving our old clothes out, cooking bacon at evening so she could sniff it out and even walking Chilli's son and mother, who we also own, up and down the trails, but unfortunately nothing was working," she continued.
"We even hired a dog psychic to see if they could give us any insight as to where Chilli was hiding, but we were no closer to finding her."
Everyday the family woke up thinking that today would be the day their pup would come home, but as the days kept going, naturally the fear that something terrible had happened heightened.
"We just felt so bad for our little baby and our biggest fear was that she was suffering," admits Sienna. "That's what kept us up at night. That brave little dog survived the hot sun, the smoky weather, the pouring rain and all we could think was, 'Chilli hates the rain, we hope she is somewhere staying warm' or “Oh my gosh it's so hot today, we hope Chilli is finding somewhere for water.'”
"Then of course every morning when we would get to the park, we would look at the UBC highway and pray to God we wouldn’t see Chilli run over."
After a number of disappointing fake leads and 15 long days, the Leone family got a glimmer of hope as Chilli was sighted by a friend of Sienna's near the 33rd and Camosun park exit, but unfortunately Chilli bolted before the friend could catch her.
48 hours later, on September 16, after an agonizing 17 days, the family finally got the call they had been longing for. A voicemail on the family's landline confirmed that Chilli was safe after wandering into a house on Granville and Southwest Marine Drive.
"Instantly my father, brother, mother and I just started screaming, it sounded like the inside of a hockey stadium," Sienna emotionally recalls. "My mom and I immediately got into our car and went to pick her up. She had wandered through someone's backdoor looking for food, so she had walked 3km in 48 hours, dodging coyotes, raccoons, cars..."
"I hopped out of the car before my mom was even fully stopped and I ran to their door. I instantly started balling my eyes out as soon as I saw her," continues Sienna. "We couldn’t believe it. It is truly a miracle, I will never forget the day we got the call and went to get her."
Sienna shared the emotional reunion on social media and received hundreds of celebratory messages from the local community who were overjoyed to see little Chilli safely return home.
The Leone family were overwhelmed by the support from the community describing it as a beautiful and heartwarming thing that they will forever be grateful for.
Chilli was taken to the vets as soon as she returned home, and apart from finding two ticks, and her weight dropping from 4.8oz to 2.8oz, the vets were amazed at what good shape this little pup was in.
"She is doing great now, and is getting extremely babied - but if anyone deserves it is Chilli!," laughs Sienna. "She needed a bag of fluids and she had a raspy little bark that she’s taking medication for. She's also still extremely tired, but who wouldn’t be after what she went through?!"
Another fascinating fact in this incredible story is that where Chilli was found was just 15-20 blocks away from Sienna's home, leaving the family convinced that Chilli was trying to get home.
"Chilli loves us as much as we deeply love her, so I think her biggest motivation was getting back to her family, and that is what kept her alive," admits Sienna.
"I wish Chilli could talk because I truly would love to ask her how she did it! She truly is our warrior princess!"