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Miracle On Atherton Street: Students Find, Return Lost Stuffed Puppy To Child

Central Pennsylvania resident Elli Bragg resorted to Facebook last week to solve a problem every parent dreads: their child losing a prized stuffed animal.

On Wednesday, February 26, Bragg shared on Facebook the heartbreaking news that her 5-year-old daughter, Maizie, lost her best friend, her other half, otherwise known as her beloved stuffed puppy, “Puppy.”

Maizie purchased Puppy with her hard-earned piggybank money on the day of her kindergarten registration. However, after an unfortunate turn of events while Elli and Maizie were driving last week, the stuffed animal tumbled out of the window of their van on Atherton Street near the Bloop stop.

Elli pulled over as quickly as possible in hopes of retrieving Puppy, but it had already disappeared from they had last seen it. Unable to bear the thought of going on without her confidant, Maizie sobbed for more than an hour and could not come to terms with the likely sad reality. Puppy was family.

Desperate for a solution, Elli did the 21st-century thing and took to Facebook to ask the local Penn State community for help locating Puppy.

Many people encouraged Bragg to buy Maizie a new stuffed puppy and trick her into believing it was the original Puppy, but that wasn’t an option for her.

“My husband and I strongly believe that it is important to be honest and upfront with our kids. I felt great empathy for her. I wouldn’t want someone to trick me, so I could not do that to her,” Bragg said. “I needed to try my best to get her Puppy back, just as I would if we lost our dog. If we didn’t succeed, we would mourn the loss together.”

Fortunately, once again through the impressive power of Penn Staters on social media, Puppy did in-fact find its way back home to Maizie. The post was shared by dozens of people, including Pet Recovery of Centre County, a local pet rescue organization.

Two Penn State students, Madison Disidori and Laura LaVigne, scooped up Puppy soon after the initial incident and became the heroes that we all needed as children.

The two were driving down Atherton when they noticed a stuffed animal on the side of the road. LaVigne thought about all of the stuffed animals that she had as a kid, and hated the idea that this one was all alone. When they were stopped at a red light, Disidori instinctively hopped out and grabbed the stuffed dog.

A former Penn State rugby player who used to babysit Maizie shared Bragg’s Facebook post in an old rugby group chat, which caught the attention of some people who had previously seen Snapchats of Puppy from LaVigne, a current member of the team.

LaVigne immediately called the number that Bragg provided in the post, and the two set up a time to reunite Puppy and Maizie.

Later that evening, LaVigne and Disidori made an appearance at Maizie’s dance class. As soon as they opened the door, Maizie immediately went running to them. She was beyond thankful, excited, and gracious. In return, Maizie gave the girls a colored heart.

“It was the most random sequence of events,” Disidori said. “It was so, so wholesome.”

The two were not expecting Maizie to be so thankful or for Bragg to share such a kind message on Facebook afterward.

“We never could have imagined that it would have turned out like that,” LaVigne said. “But, the way it turned out was absolutely the best way.”

Later that evening, Elli and Maizie talked about the girls’ bravery and commitment to doing the right thing.

“They didn’t have to rush to return Puppy to Maizie’s dance class immediately after they got out of class,” Elli said. “It was a great opportunity to reinforce our family value of caring for others and being ‘that person’ who helps others in need.”

Maizie was sure to give Puppy some extra love that night. She hugged Puppy, and gave Puppy some of her snacks as a ‘welcome home’ treat.

Elli was left with one lasting thought at the conclusion of their interaction.

“The fact that so many people, many of whom are complete strangers, are trying their best to help to find a child’s lost stuffed puppy has restored my faith in humanity,” Elli said.

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About the Author

Colleen Nersten

Colleen is a washed-up biology grad and former associate editor. Her legacy will live on through stories like “10 Questions With State College Sensation ‘Hot UPS Bae’”. If you’re a STEM girlie, this is your sign to take the leap of faith and learn to write. It’s pretty fun. Colleen misses the hate mail and can be reached at [email protected] or via LinkedIn.

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