Alexandria, VA – Everybody can settle down now. Pepon, that lost Brittany dog you might’ve heard about, has been found, after four days of running around Old Town! The three-year-old rescue opened the back gate of his Alexandria townhouse and simply took off! In fact, Pepon’s owner, Tina Leone, cut short a family trip in Morocco to come home and join hundreds of Alexandrians who actively looked for her canine companion.
“It took everyone from the neighborhood to find him. I and so grateful and relieved,” Leone said. “With this experience, with how terrifying it was, I really got to meet my neighbors. To know that people in this community are so helpful and supportive really gives me a lot of hope for humanity.”
Pepon lost about four or five pounds and was hit by a car. He suffered some bruising, is tired, but otherwise seemed in cheerful spirits.
Leone, her husband, and eight-year-old son left for an international trip on June 24, and spent two days in Paris, France, and one night in Marrakesh, Morocco, when on the morning of June 28 she received a call from the dog sitter. The family’s six-year-old dog Kristy was fine, but Pepon was gone. He escaped by opening the back gate.
“He ran all over town,” Leone said. “I heard he was running back and forth on that bike trail between the Braddock Road and King Street Metro station.”
Incidentally, Pepon is a rescue… from Spain! When she isn’t the CEO of the Ballston BID, Leone is a volunteer with American Brittany Rescue, where she has rescued more than 200 dogs around the world over the last 12 years. In February, she founded the organization Brittany Rescue International, and it was on a dog-related assignment that she met Pepon just outside of Madrid, and brought him home. He was living in a cardboard box with another dog when he was rescued.
“Getting a new foster dog acclimated to a new home is challenging. In this case he bonded to me, and having me leave, with a new person in the house and a changed schedule, was a big disruption. It was more stress than the dog could handle at the time,” Leone said. “At one point, Pepon was actually coming back home and somebody saw him and tried to chase him down and grab him, and that just set him off and he just flew away.”
Leone notified the dog walking company that takes Kristy and Pepon for their daily exercise, and even hired the company Pure Gold Pet Tracker to look in all the places that the dog might think to visit.
“They’re hunting dogs ad, they are perfect for hunting quail, pheasant, grouse, and the point and retrieve,” Leone said. “They’re super high energy and intelligent and that’s how he was able to do it for four days.”
Leone’s husband and son were wrapping up their trip to Morocco when Pepon was found.
“If you are high energy and like to experience the outdoors, then you’re a Brittany. My husband isn’t a Brittany. He’s smart, well-groomed, not over-the-top crazy. He’s more like a standard Schnauzer,” Leone said. “They’re very sad that I couldn’t be there with them.”
Leone, who has owned and fostered Brittany dogs for 20 years, immediately cut her trip short and contacted her neighbors and friends, who printed out fliers and posted them all over town. She left her partner and son in Marrakesh and flew home to look for her dog. It was 12 blocks away from her home that she received the call on Wednesday, July 3 – four days after his disappearance – that Pepon was in the back yard of a home in the 300 block of Royal Street.
“It’s got to be a couple hundred people who helped, easily,” Leone said. “I didn’t know Cassie and Tim, the folks who called me and told me he was in their back yard, either. They saw one of the fliers, and Tim did the right thing. He didn’t engage, he just sat in the yard very calmly and kept an eye on him so he wouldn’t run out their gate. I arrived there within minutes and approached him gently and he immediately recognized me. It really is such a relief.”