February 8, 2023 Local Stories in and Around St. Joseph, Illinois

Homeward Bound: Piper’s incredible adventure comes to an end

Piper, the most famous Labrador in St. Joseph, is finally back home.


The dog spent seven days exploring St. Joseph cornfields and the town before finally returning to her pet sitter’s house.


And a beagle named Chloe is to thank for her safe return.


Last night, just like every other night of her adventure, Piper returned to the house of her sitter, Amy McElroy, and circled the outside. For the past few nights, the labrador had been putting a few paws inside the house but refused to come fully inside and the McElroys did not want to attempt to grab her for fear of scaring her off for good.


Last night proved different.


Chloe heard Piper in the backyard and alerted her owners. Dan McElroy went to check on Chloe and saw Piper had stuck her head in the back door, which they had left open in the hopes she would return.  Chloe than ran outside to Piper and after a few false starts, Piper ran into the kitchen and ran to Dan around 2:30 a.m.


“There were a lot of tears,’ Amy McElroy said.


The reunion comes after a week that saw the family and the town search for the lab, try to lure her out of the field with a variety of treats, use of a live trap and hours spent at night at the field trying to catch her as she made her daily trip around town.


McElroy said her family was completely overwhelmed by the support from the community.


“My friends jumped into action if I couldn’t get down to the field when someone saw her,” Amy said. “Even if that meant being a little afraid of what might be in the cornfield besides her that may come out at us. The rest of the community was amazing offering supplies and support and basically anything we needed.”


McElroy said once they figured out Piper’s schedule she, the owner’s daughter Alyssa Ferry and the owner Cindy Ferry made a plan and stuck with it.


“It took a few nights but it worked,” she said.


McElroy said she is just happy Piper is safe.


“Losing one of my best friend’s dogs was absolute torture and I don’t think I breathed for an entire week,” she said.


Piper is now relaxing with Alyssa, who said the dog seemed fine except for being covered in dirt and burrs from the field which a bath quickly took care of.


Ferry, who flew to Illinois from Texas last week to help with the search, said she was relieved to have Piper home.


“I flew up to Illinois in Friday hopeful that I could be a help in getting Piper back home,” she said.  “After the first night and not getting that ‘Disney moment’ when I walk up to the corn, say her name, and she comes bounding out and jumps into my arms, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t feel at least a little bit defeated. You really can’t fathom the feeling of dread and hopelessness until you’re standing at the edge of a massive cornfield, knowing that your dog is in there, but having absolutely no idea how to get her out.”


Ferry said the support of the St. Joseph community was amazing.
“I don’t have enough words to say how appreciative I am of every single person in this town who tirelessly helped us bring Piper home,” she said. “I don’t know that we could’ve done it without the support of this community. It’s the reason this small town will always hold a special place in my heart.”


Ferry was sitting outside the McElroy house in her car last night watching Piper circle the McElroy house last night.  Ferry said she was hesitant to get out of her vehicle because she didn’t want to scare the dog off.


“We needed her to feel safe at Amy’s so she would come back every night,” she said.


Ferry said Piper circled the house numerous times and eventually stopped in the backyard.  She got out of her car to alert the McElroys that Piper was in the backyard and then watched as Dan finally got the dog.


“Piper is acting completely fine,” Ferry said.


Alyssa is going to take Piper to the vet and the dog’s owner, Cindy Ferry, said she will be microchipped.


“I can’t even begin to express my gratitude,” Cindy said. “Not only to the ones who had their feet on the ground searching but to everyone who provided updates, and phone calls and the offers to assist. I said many times when Alyssa was growing up that it takes a village, little did I know it would take a village to bring my pup home.”

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