7 Life Lessons I Learned when My Chihuahua Pixie was Stolen

Monday, June 9, 2014

Yes, my dog Pixie was stolen on September 17, 2007 for 4 days.   I figured the best way to tell the story from start to finish was to break it into sections. 

 I decided to tie a life lesson that I learned to each section.


1.Treat every day like it’s everyone’s last because YOU will be the one who regrets it if you don’t.

The night before Monday, September 17, 2007 I was an asshole. My room was hot, I was sore from exercising, and I didn't want to be bothered so when Pixie, my 2 year old chihuahua tried to lay with me that night, I pushed her away. This is one of my major regrets but it taught me an important lesson.

The next morning I got ready for work and zipped out the door without saying bye to my dog. I even thought to myself that I should make an effort to do so since I had been mean to her the night before. On the way home from work I was in a great mood as I listened to the new Kanye West- Stronger. It's quite ironic because that song became the soundtrack to my life to keep me strong over the next few days.

As I made the left turn onto my street I noticed 2 cop cars in front of my house as well as cars in the driveway. I'm normally home before my parents so my stomach dropped as I imagined that someone must have died for 2 cop cars to be outside. I also saw my boyfriend’s car out front. As I parked my car on the street I saw him on the porch with a terrible expression on his face. Why was he here if he was supposed to be at work?

Pixie as a puppy. I spent many days staring at this photo when she was gone. 

2. Tragedy doesn't consult your schedule before it strikes, nor do grief and shock.

He stood up as I got out of the car and almost immediately my Dad (who must have been waiting for me to get home) came out the front door and walked directly towards me in a way that told me something was HORRIBLY wrong. He told me there had been a break-in and a robbery and to stay calm.

I blurted out "Where's Pixie?!" immediately.

“We don’t know. We can't find her but we are still looking."
My knees gave out as my body collapsed to the ground. Then I let out a blood curdling scream as I yelled "NOOOO". It's the kind you hear in movies when someone finds a dead body.

I ran inside and began crawling around on all fours looking under everything in the house and calling Pixie's name. She couldn't have went out the sliding door when it was left open because she doesn't like walking on the deck. She wasn't hiding still because I surely would have found her.

Like a disheveled crazy woman, I ran from yard to yard on my block searching for Pixie. If I heard a dog bark, I'd run into the person's backyard to make sure it wasn't her.

When I collected myself enough to go back inside, I discovered that my entire collection of jewelry and my digital camera had been stolen. I felt so violated and angry. Mostly it was costume jewelry but I was also missing a diamond necklace and my class ring. My parent's room had been ransacked so bad that every single drawer and container was turned upside down and emptied onto the waterbed. This was alarming because Pixie would always sleep on their bed while I was at work and all I could picture was her being noticed immediately when they entered the room.

There was broken glass in the kitchen from the window that the main suspect had broken with a tire iron and crawled through so he could open and unlock the sliding glass door. He had also cut himself on the glass which left drops of blood throughout the house.

3. Actions got more done than passive thoughts or prayers.

There were some other daylight burglaries in the area, some connected and some not, but I didn't care about figuring out who did it. All I wanted to do was find Pixie then worry about the rest. I had told my boss I would be out the rest of the week or until I found her.

Everyone was saying they would pray for me and keep me in their thoughts but all I wanted was to take action. I knew that it was up to me to get shit done because there was NO time to mess around. I let my grief, sadness, and fear turn into motivation and strength. At one point I adamantly said to my mom, "No, it's not supposed to be like this. She's only 2. I am supposed to have her for so many years. She's supposed to be at my wedding and be there when I get a new house. This isn't how this is supposed to go."

By Monday night, I had 200 copies of the Missing Chihuahua sign my brother and my friend had made. I spent an hour or so driving around to put up more posters. I completely changed my MySpace profile into a Find Pixie page. I posted numerous bulletins about it asking everyone to repost and by the end of the night, every bulletin in my feed was about Pixie thanks to everyone's kind efforts in sharing.

When I awoke on Tuesday, I began contacting radio stations, news reporters, and newspapers in an effort to reach as many people as possible that may have seen Pixie.

4. I now know what a parent feels when their child goes missing.

During all of this chaos, I couldn't help but think about Natalee Holloway's mom and how she must have been completely derailed mentally from the day she found out the news about her daughter.   She may never have closure either, so what did that mean for me? I couldn't even imagine next month's hair appointment because all I could think was how I could function doing anything if Pixie was still gone.

For those few days I barely ate or showered.  I didn't want to miss a moment of time where I could get news about Pixie.   I was tortured with "What If" scenarios in my head.   What if she's hurt? What if she has a new home? What if she's dead? What if she's lost and scared? Does she remember me?  I didn't want anyone to distract me because contrary to popular belief, it actually made me feel worse. 

That evening, ABC27 News showed up at our house to film a segment on the break-ins.  My heart hurt so bad as I watched them get footage of her empty bed and food bowl.  It was very hard to speak on camera about the incident and I was very ashamed of how bad I looked but it's what had to be done in order to spread the word.  The news anchor accidentally (but miraculously) gave out my cell phone number on the screen instead of the local police department's so over the next few days I received several calls which tortured me more. Below you will find a recording of the news report that first aired. 


One was from a man at a pizza shop in Harrisburg that thought he saw a Chihuahua run by earlier, and he just wanted me to know incase I wanted to look in that area.   It made me feel good to know that other people understood my concern for my little girl.  Another was from a woman that thought her son was acting shady and maybe he had taken my dog.  And another one was from an old woman that had her dog stolen from her yard years ago and she wanted to tell me she was thinking of me.  

Pixie Ross...Local Celebrity

5. Material possessions don’t mean shit.
If you think they do, then good for you and I hope you never have to experience what I did in order to learn they really don't.  

If Pixie had not been stolen, we may have never learned the miniscule value of the material items, like my grandfather's cigarette case, or the memory card on my camera.  On that card were photos of Nikki (who would pass away the next year) and some baby photos of Pixie which I had saved on my computer but lost them a week before from a virus.  Now, I can understand that those were just photos and the memory in my mind of those people and times is what really lasts forever. 

Wednesday night was spent making a list of the items that were stolen so we could give it to our insurance company. All I really wanted to write was PIXIE.  It had been over 48 hours and still no leads. 

If you don't think this would be so tragic you are very wrong.  Life in my house ceased to function properly.  My parents would spot a toy of Pixie's and I'd catch them just staring at it with tears in their eyes.  I wanted to save Pixie's smell forever just incase I never got the chance to experience it in person again. It was FUCKING TRAGIC.

Then on Thursday evening the police returned to check on some last minute clues I had found on my own like some additional fingerprints and a footprint in the mud.  It was then that we were informed (very vaguely so that we couldn't interfere with the investigation) that they had an idea of who could be responsible for this.  If it was whom they thought it was we had no reason to worry about Pixie's safety because the suspects were animal lovers.  They were around my age (21 at the time) and they had been suspects in other recent break-ins over the past few months.   They had also been living in and out of different hotels in the area.  I remember the officers acting very glum that night as if there was something unnerving about the whole situation.  Had I know what they did, I would have completely understood.  

6. Positive thoughts bring positive energy.
By Thursday night I began wondering if Pixie had already became someone else's pet.  To take my mind off of things and allow the detective to do his job, I decided to watch a movie.  Because I couldn’t stop thinking of the hotel clue, I decided to watch the movie Vacancy with Luke Wilson.  It was a thriller that took place in a motel, which somehow made me feel closer to the motel Pixie may be at. 

I kept playing in my head a situation where the cops went to a hotel and found pixie and she was fine.    I kept believing that’s what had happened. 

At around 8:30 or 9:00 I got a very unsettling feeling in my gut. I couldn’t explain it but it was the kind that makes you squirm around a lot and feel like something is going on.  So when the movie ended just before 11 pm, I got ready for bed and then watched the 11 o'clock news. 

Breaking news – there was a shooting at a motel in York involving a police officer.  They had no more information except that there was one victim so far. 

I burst through my parent's bedroom door to make sure they saw it, and they had.  They were skeptical and told me to not get my hopes up and to just try to relax.   

But I knew something was up.  The detective had mentioned they might be at a hotel, and if there was a shooting at a hotel involving cops it would have had to have been because they went there to apprehend a suspect. 

As I laid my head on the pillow, I imagined the phone ringing and me getting the news that Pixie was okay.    Then I fell asleep.

In the early hours of Friday, September 21st the house phone rang and my eyes shot open.  The caller ID said Hampden Township so I knew it was the police as I picked up and shouted "YES!"

"Is this the Ross residence?"
"We believe we have your dog, can you come up to the station?"

I jumped out of bed, quick threw my contacts in, and for my parents to wake up and get in the car.  Minutes later we were at the police station.  THIS WAS IT! 

Pixie on the day I got her back.

We walked into the police station and were greeted by the detective, who told us that the officer would be out to see us in a moment.  He also informed us that the officer had been shot but was okay.  They had to make sure he was fine and released from the ambulance before they could contact us. 

Then I heard footsteps and it is the only time I'd ever be happy to be in a police station at 4 am.  I could hear Pixie's signature sniffing sounds and as the door opened, my eyes widened.  The officer entered the room in a sling with Pixie in his arms.  I was so happy and when he gave her to me I wanted to squeeze her till she exploded!  I will never be able to explain the feelings of joy I had inside me at that moment.  I can only recreate it in my head.  

Sleeping her crazy week off. 

Unfortunately this was a very serious ordeal because the people responsible for this had been stealing from A LOT of homes and it was easier to track them since there was a live object with them that could be located. We also were informed that the main suspect was deceased but they couldn't tell us more until his family was contacted.  

We learned that someone (who had seen the news/posts about Pixie) had called in because their friend who also happened to be a 16 year old missing person) had mentioned that there was a chihuahua in the hotel room she was at.  I also found out that not only had they been feeding her and bought a collar for her but they planned to drive to Florida with her on Friday morning.  That's why there was a sense of urgency when the police were over on Thursday afternoon. 

That day, I saw the name of the deceased suspect on the news.   It turned out to be a kid that went to my high school (which was huge) but I really didn't know him.  The other suspect was in custody.  It was a very scary experience for everyone involved especially when it was discovered that firearms had been stolen by these suspects in the past so they were armed. 

What I understand happened that night is that they used cell phone tower pings from the missing girl's phone since they knew she was with the suspects.  They watched the motel and then decided to move in.  When the first officer knocked on the motel room door and the main suspect opened it, the officer discovered that the second suspect was laying in bed.  He was fidgeting around so both officers began to apprehend both suspects.  It was at that time that the first suspect grabbed a gun he had on him (the officer hadn't been able to pat him down yet) and ran out of the room into the parking lot.  As the first officer chased him down, the suspect turned around and shot twice at the cop. The first bullet grazed his arm which caused his body to rotate sideways and allowed the second bullet to go sideways through the front of his vest.  A third shot was the suspect taking his own life.  

Eventually Pixie was found stashed behind the TV in the room, crouched down with her paws over her face. 

The reason for Pixie being taken was literally this… “She was really cool and was playing with them as they went around the house so they thought it would be awesome to take her.” 

It’s also been said that the main suspect had told friends he’d die before he ever went back to jail and he’d take a cop down with him.  I don’t know if that’s true or not but its extremely unnerving to think about.

7. PTSD is a bitch. 
After the news reporters faded away and the congratulation texts, calls, and emails died down, life became a little bit more normal.   A few weeks after the incident we had to go identify some of our items that had been recovered.   Miraculously, my class ring was found in the one vehicle of the suspects so I got that back but everything else was gone.   My camera was never found and they told me in these cases, the memory card simply gets thrown away and the camera usually gets sold.  

I also learned that the main suspect almost certainly had a gun on him when he was in my home.   So if you ever want to question why I feel the need to own a handgun, there’s your reason. The other scary thing was that we had a car in the driveway, even though it didn’t run, so for all these guys knew, someone could have been home and sleeping while they broke in.   

In the weeks and months after the robbery I was extremely on edge.  At night when I went downstairs to the kitchen I’d have to turn on every light in every room. I was paranoid that people were staring in the windows at me, waiting to rob me.   I was extremely upset that they had been in my room and that the main suspect had dripped blood on my bed when he was leaning over it looking for more things to take from my nightstand. 

On a lighter note, ever since the day Pixie was stolen, I've made a conscious effort to kiss my dogs (all 4 of them) goodbye in the morning before work and I think twice before scolding them when I'm in a bad mood.  

I also don't get mad about trivial things like finding a torn up piece of paper that the dogs got into or a stain on the carpet because it was THOSE simple little things that I missed when Pixie was gone.   

Since "The Worst Day of My Life" I've become the mommy to 4 Chihuahuas.  Am I afraid that this will ever happen again? No, because honestly, it's a very freak thing to have happened and the odds of it happening again... well it's basically zero. 

There are many times I think back at how if one little detail had went different I may not have Pixie today.  

I hope you enjoyed learning about this HUGE part of my life as I truly believe it's made me into the strong, motivated, passionate person I am today. 

 photo Screenshot2014-01-05at102823PM_zps73241dbc.png (and Pixie!)


  1. I am so glad you got your dog Pixie back! Pixie is such a cute dog and I would be so heartbroken if someone stole my dog. I can not imagine what I would feel like! I would scream like you did! I will remember to to tell my loved ones and my dog that I love them every day. Because you never know what tomorrow brings!!

    1. Thank you Julie! Seriously it was a huge lesson to never take any single thing or moment for granted!

  2. OMG this is just heartbreaking but I am THRILLED that Pixie was returned! You are truly blessed because that is NOT the norm!

    1. I definitely would not be who i am today if me and Pixie didnt make it out of this horrid situation together. Glad you enjoyed Caren! XOXO

  3. What an amazing story Ellen! I am so glad you got Pixie back and it sounds like she was the hero to help identify these idiots. I too, had my home broken into while at work, but all they took was every single piece of jewelry I owned over my 48 years of life, including irreplaceable gifts from deceased family members and my Grandmother's wedding ring. They busted in our front door and also hit 5 other homes on my street that day. Never to be caught, items never to be found. Checked local pawn stores but nothing ever showed up. Since, have installed ADT because my teenagers and myself could not sleep!

    1. see thats the other thing that upset me too. I also lost a charm bracelet that my grandma (who is passed away now) and my mom got me over the years and there was a lot of sentimental value to it. I just keep reminding myself though that atleast i got pixie ya know?

  4. I can only imagine what an ordeal that was. My dog is literally my best friend, I would not survive without him. I am so happy you got her back!


    1. was def the worst experience ever and i wouldnt wish it on anyone!!!

  5. Pixie is so adorable! I'm so glad everything worked out.

  6. This story brought me to tears. My chihuahua's are part of my family as well and I would be heartbroken if something like this ever happened. I'm so glad it worked out & Pixie was returned safely! All four of your "babies" are absolutely adorable!

  7. wow! what a scary, crazy thing! So unsettling to have someone in your home and so scary that they took your dog. I am so, so, so happy you got her back. Such a good story in that regard. Loved the life lessons along the way.


I love reading and responding to comments but in order to get my reply you must ensure you are NOT a no-reply blogger. If you are, here are some quick steps to change that!

1. Go to the home page of your Blogger account.
2. Select the drop down beside your name on the top right corner and choose Blogger Profile.
3. Select Edit Profile at the top right.
4. Select the Show My Email Address box.
5. Hit Save Profile.