By JOHN McBRYDEThe whereabouts of Skippy Lou may never be known, but the legacy of the missing dog and her saga’s far-reaching effect will likely last forever. The whereabouts of Skippy Lou may never be known, but the legacy of the missing dog and her saga’s far-reaching effect will likely last forever.
It’s the one-year anniversary of the mixed Labrador’s disappearance from a home in Brentwood, and it’s been a year filled with pain, fear, hope, tremendous community spirit and, ultimately, complete recovery from a devastating cancer that Skippy Lou’s owner had endured.
“Last year was the worst year of my life because I became sicker and sicker and had so many complications from chemo (treatment),” said Jill Napier, a resident of Madison who was diagnosed with ovarian and uterine cancer in July 2011, just two months after losing her job. “I was hospitalized seven or eight times after each chemo, and there were two times when I almost lost my life.
“I finished my last chemo treatment on Jan. 16 and I was cancer free by the end of the month,” Napier added. “I turned 37 in February, and I tell you, it was the sweetest birthday I ever had because I thought I would never make it.”
Running parallel with Napier’s ordeal was the search for her beloved pet. Skippy Lou went missing on Aug. 10, 2011, while Napier was recovering from a 10-hour surgery she had undergone just a few weeks after her cancer diagnosis. A friend who lived in Brentwood had offered to take care of Skippy Lou while Napier was in the hospital and later recovering at home. But the tan canine got away one night and, despite a few reports of her sighting, is still missing today.
As word got out, more and more people from Brentwood and nearby came together in the search for Skippy Lou. Area animal shelters and veterinarians were alerted, a Facebook page was launched, and a pet detective from Nebraska was even hired back in September.
Kelly Hosford, an area animal lover, became the point of contact in the search. She created a blog that includes Skippy Lou’s story with photos and updates on sightings.
“I didn’t know Jill or Skippy Lou, but I saw an e-mail (looking for volunteers) around the time she disappeared,” said Hosford. “I just thought I’d jump in.”
In her most recent post on her blog, from July 19, Hosford wrote that “we continue to keep our hopes alive that (Skippy Lou) will come home.”
But she does concede the chances are slim.
“We honestly just don’t know now,” Hosford said when reached earlier this week. “We followed through for about seven or eight months and then we had to really cut back. It’s possible someone has her but doesn’t really know who she is, or maybe she’s still wandering.”
|Jill Napier and Destiny|
But in a strange twist, the story with no ending (yet) has led to a happy ending.
Even if a sighting turned out to be a false alarm, it would generally lead to someone else being reunited with their lost dog or a stray finding a home, according to Hosford. The Skippy Lou Facebook page has evolved into a general lost-and-found for all kinds of missing dogs.
“That’s one good blessing,” Hosford said.
In the meantime, of course, Skippy Lou’s owner has fully recovered from two types of cancer and is healthy enough to resume her job search. Napier said her spirits were lifted knowing how many people cared and joined in the search.
“I would just like to reiterate how thankful I am for the Nashville animal rescue community,” she said.
In addition, following a tip that had led Napier to an animal shelter in Rutherford County back in March, she didn’t find Skippy Lou but did fall in love with another dog she came across there.
She adopted it that day. The dog’s name was – and is – Destiny.