RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — A dog adopted from a Triangle rescue facility has had quite the journey after disappearing for a year and a half.
Chipper got lost in May of 2020. He was found last month, but that isn’t the only remarkable part of his story.
Behind his big brown eyes, there is a story much bigger than the little dog named Chipper.
“If I could get this dog to talk for 30 minutes,” laughed Brandi Cozart, who first fostered the pup through Triangle Beagle Rescue.
The rescue took him in as a puppy, but he quickly found a new home with Jason Blue.
“That’s when he became ‘Chipper’ after Chipper Jones of the Atlanta Braves,” noted Cozart.
Suzie Blue, Jason’s mother, volunteered with the rescue group, and they all enjoyed keeping in touch. No one ever thought Jason and Chipper’s time together would end so soon or so sadly
“My son unexpectedly passed away in February of 2020,” explained Blue.
“I remember exactly where I was standing when I got that phone call and tears streaming down my face,” said Cozart. “We become such good friends with our adopters because we share that bond over loving the same piece of family.”
After Jason Blue’s death, the pup once again went up for adoption – with the provision that “Chipper comes with a grandma,” Cozart explained.
Blue, who had moved to Florida, couldn’t take Chipper herself but wanted to stay in touch with the person who adopted the dog her son loved so much.
That didn’t bother Amani Qassem at all. After adopting Chipper, she kept in touch with Blue and updated her on their adventures as they moved to Georgia.
But shortly after arriving in May of 2020, Chipper got away.
“I was absolutely heartbroken,” recalled Qassem. “I have to be the one to tell Suzie I lost Jason’s dog.”
For her part, Blue was worried about Chipper’s new family. “I was heartbroken for them because I knew how much they loved him and cared for him,” she said. “He was just an escape artist.”
They all did everything they could to try to find the lost pup, even hired tracking dogs, but months passed with no sign of him.
“That’s kind of like when I knew I’m not getting Chip back,” remembered Qassem. Still, she checked social media to see if any ever posted about finding her lost dog.
In Florida, Blue never forgot the little beagle either.
“I never let my head go to that place where he wasn’t with somebody and he wasn’t safe,” she said.
Still, neither really believed they’d see Chipper again.
Then, in November, Qassem was checking her email.
“I saw an email that said, ‘Chipper’s microchip has been scanned.’ I was like ‘What?’ He’s been gone a year and a half,” she recalled.
It had been 538 days since he disappeared when he turned up, some 500 miles away in Florida.
“He was in a shelter about four-and-a-half hours from me, and I was like ‘Oh my gosh I will go get him,” said Blue. “My heart was just overjoyed.”
Blue picked Chipper up from the shelter and took him home until Qassem could drive to Florida.
When Qassem arrived, and Chip ran into her arms, tail wagging, there wasn’t a dry eye.
“We were both in tears,” recalled Blue, smiling.
When the news made it to Cozart and Triangle Beagle Rescue, it brought much the same reaction. “I cried again,” she said.
They’ll likely never know where Chipper was for so long or how he turned up at a shelter in Florida, but Blue has a theory.
“I just feel like all that was orchestrated by my son,” she said. “He wanted him to be home and happy.”