Pet care specialist, Pets at Home has reunited one lucky pup with her favourite toy after it mysteriously went missing in the washing machine. 

Francisca, a two-year-old West Highland Terrier, slept cuddling the parsnip toy every night after her owner, 40-year-old Joana Lopes, bought it from Pets at Home in 2021. 

But after the toy vanished one day last year and her furry family member was evidently distraught, Joana started her mission to reunite Francisca with her favourite toy, eventually contacting the CEO of Pets at Home directly for help in a last-ditch attempt that paid off.   

Joana, who now lives in Portugal, explains: “One day Mr Parsnip was looking a bit grey from all the love, so my mum decided to put him in the washing machine to freshen him up for Francisca. But after hanging up the rest of the washing, she realised parsnip had gone missing.” 

The pair searched high and low for the toy, suspecting it may have been caught among the other washing or fallen off the balcony, but to no avail. 

According to Joana, the change in Francisca without her toy was instant: “That day she was distraught and from then onwards she would walk around crying at night, obviously missing her parsnip. She was restless and it would take her ages to fall asleep.” 

On her next trip back to the UK, Joana’s first stop was to a local Pets at Home store to look for a new parsnip, but she quickly learned that the limited-edition line had been popular with lots of other pups too and had since sold out. 

She said: “When I couldn’t find anything in store, I spent hours looking on various websites to see if anyone was selling the toy online, but I found nothing. 

“On a particularly bad night where Francisca wouldn’t stop crying well after midnight, I had a last-resort crazy idea to contact the Pets at Home bosses and ask for help.” 

Joana said she didn’t really expect anyone to see her messages, let alone the CEO of Pets at Home: “I sent off a few messages and didn’t think any more of it, until I received an email from Pets at Home to say Lyssa McGowan had passed on my note. I could hardly believe my eyes! 

“Not only had Lyssa read my message, but her and the brilliant team at Pets at Home went on a mission to find a replacement parsnip for Francisca and managed to track down, not one, but two parsnip toys which they organised to send to us.” 

Now, after 200 days apart, Francisca has been reunited with her new parsnip toys, which have travelled over 1,500 miles to Portugal. 

Joana said: “Since being reunited with Mr Parsnip, Francisca has been a different dog and she now sleeps soundly every night cuddling her best friend. 

“I want to say the biggest ‘thank you’ to Lyssa and everyone at Pets at Home who went above and beyond to make a little dog and her humans very happy.  

“Me and my family are still absolutely blown away that Pets at Home listened to our story and understood how much this would mean to us, and we’re forever grateful to them for making our Francisca happy again!” 

Lyssa McGowan, CEO of Pets at Home, said: “As pet lovers, we really would do anything to make sure our furry friends are happy, in Joana’s case, even if that means crossing oceans to look for their favourite toy! 

“We always love to see pets enjoying our range of toys, but it was particularly rewarding to see how happy Francisca was to be reunited with her beloved parsnip. We’re just pleased we could do our bit to help.”