Downtown Murphys business owners are lending one another a helping hand in efforts to find a pair of dogs missing now for several weeks.
Most mysterious is the disappearance of Ripley. The 9-year-old Maltipoo, a Maltese-poodle mix, served as the store mascot at Vdora on Main Street and comforted brain-injured military veterans at a Martinez VA hospital and Bay Area hospice patients prior to his Feb. 24 disappearance.
Olivia Stockman, who owns the Vdora clothing store and Doggie Duds and Spa Essentials on Main Street, said Ripley has always been by her side, including for the last three years at the stores.
"Even at the store, people came in wheelchairs and were stressed," she said. "They feel the (dog's) energy … and felt at ease."
Stockman said the dog was out of her sight "literally 10 seconds" on a quiet Sunday afternoon, when the adjacent parking lot was empty, the streets quiet and most people at home watching the Academy Awards on television.
"I didn't hear or see anything. I was so careful, I thought. We looked six hours after he (went) missing ...I slept in my shop Vdora with the doors wide open in hopes he would return," she said. "Everybody knows him in Murphys. He would always be on the counter … he's just so well-loved."
Stockman has canvassed Murphys' streets with fliers and even upped the reward offered from $500 to $750. Many neighbors now sport the lost-dog posts, not only for Ripley but for teacup Chihuahua Rocco as well.
Rocco is owned by Fidel Avila, owner of Fidel's Barber Shop on Main Street. While he and his family, who also own the Peppermint Stick near Main and Algiers streets, were in Mexico, Rocco escaped on March 7.
"I don't think it's connected," Avila said. "(Rocco) got out from the babysitter's."
The Chihuahua was last seen running up Murphys Grade Road toward home.
Avila and Stockman each advertise the others' missing canine as well as their own on storefront windows.
Liz Millier, of Black Sheep Winery, between Stockman's shops, said similar disappearances have happened before as a home next door had two small dogs go missing a few years ago.
Stockman said she hadn't heard about that. She has gone to great lengths to find Ripley and his loss has greatly pained her. It only made matters worse when her Siamese cats, ages 11 and 17, died within two days of each other from cancer last week. She clutched Rubin, Ripley's littermate, tightly Thursday afternoon at Doggie Duds.
"He's not happy. He's lost without his brother," Stockman said. "He won't sleep. He's barely eating. He's traumatized. It's hard to come to work here because this is where he was taken."
She went so far as to consult with psychics with law enforcement ties, who she said assured her Ripley is with another family and is OK for now.
"Ripley needs meds and will very soon get very sick without them," she said, something she fears someone who innocently came across the dog and may have taken him in would not know.
Lisa Schwartz, of nearby Gold Country Roasters on Scott Street, said she aches for Stockman.
"We all knew the dog and we're dog people so it touched our heart strings," Schwartz said.
The coffee shop added a plea for Ripley's return to its Facebook page.
"Everyone knows about it. It's on Facebook," Stockman said. "I don't know what else to do."