Desperately seeking Stella

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Community assists family to find missing boxer mix

By Shaina Stockton

LAUREL FORK — The story of a local dog gone missing went viral on social media this week, as neighbors and friends assisted efforts to reunite the canine with her family in Carroll County, and most notably, her bonded partner in crime: the family’s pet pig.


The search for Stella, a boxer brindle mix, began Monday morning, after she disappeared from the family’s yard in Laurel Fork. Emily Goad, Stella’s owner, said she knew something was wrong when their pet pig, aptly named “Piggy,” went along with Stella, but came back alone.

“It’s like she just disappeared,” Goad said in an interview Wednesday evening. “I’d let both Stella and Piggy out for their bathroom break, just like I always do… and about 15-20 minutes later, when I called for them, Piggy came back like normal.”

Goad added that Stella has been trained extensively as a therapy dog, and Stella and Piggy do not wander off when they are let outside.

“Sometimes, Stella would go between our house and [my parents] house, which I can see through the woods from my own house,” Goad said. But when she checked, they hadn’t seen her.

Before she disappeared, Stella was wearing a silver choker collar, but no tags. Prior to letting Stella outside, Goad said she’d removed her Christmas collar and was in the process of switching the tags to her other collar to put back on her.

Goad took to social media to ask her community for help, after she became concerned that the dog had been picked up. As of Thursday evening, the family had received no leads on Stella.

Goad shared that the family dog’s disappearance has hit everyone hard.

An animal lover with a variety of pets, Goad describes her home as a “mini-farm” with chickens, ducks, a rabbit, a hedgehog, parakeets and Piggy. Stella, the matron of their menagerie, dotes on them all.

Additionally, Goad’s 6-year-old nephew calls Stella his best friend. She keeps him focused by sitting by him and letting him pet her while he works.

Goad explained that Stella is in training to become a therapy dog, so she is very well behaved.

Goad is starting to worry about Piggy’s welfare, as well. “Stella and Piggy are inseparable. I’ve never seen a pig and a dog have the kind of relationship they do,” she said.

Goad’s Facebook post includes a photo album of Stella and Piggy, capturing sweet moments, and even a video or two of the duo playing together outside, napping on the couch and sharing a car seat.

Since Stella has gone missing, Goad says Piggy has stopped eating normally, and spends the majority of the time wandering around the house in search of Stella.

Goad hopes that their efforts pay off soon, and are taking action in any way they can.

“I’ve contacted animal control, the regional game warden, all of the humane societies I could find in Floyd, Grayson, Carroll, Surry and Patrick counties,” she said.

A canine tracker pair from Winston-Salem, N.C. visited the area on Friday to aid the search. In an update Friday afternoon, Goad shared that Stella's scent ended abruptly at 150 yards east of their home near U.S. 58, which indicates that she was picked up.

Goad shared that she is offering a $1,000 reward to anyone who can return Stella to them.