March 18, 2015
Matthew has been a friend of my sons since he started pre-K with my Diego back at St. Matthew’s School in Edinburg, Texas. My son and Matthew are now in college, and I was giving Matthew a ride to Austin so he could visit Diego over Spring Break. SXSW was happening in Austin, and there was no more hip place in the world than to hang out (especially when your best bud Diego has a free couch in his apartment.)
Matthew and I headed north on Hwy 281, and stopped to get gas in Falfurrias. As I rummaged around for my debit card, I felt eyes watching me. I turned to see the saddest dog I had ever laid eyes on. Filthy dirty with clumped fur, an infected eye, and some nasty wounds on its ear and hips, this old yellow dog shuffled from one fueling bay to the next, looking for food. Matthew and I were speechless. We weren’t prepared for such unbearable sadness so early in the morning.
Without hesitating, Matthew jumped out of the car and ran to get the poor dog a breakfast taco. The line was long, and it took Matthew awhile to get back to my truck. By this time, the dog had ambled behind the convenience store, and was drinking from a filmy, oily puddle. Matthew and I tried to get close with the taco, but the dog tucked its tail between its legs, and ran across the street.
Discouraged, and needing to get to Austin, we left the taco where the dog could find it, and returned to the road. I thought about the dog the rest of the day, and through the night. I decided to call Falfurrias Animal Control in the morning. Before I fell asleep I texted my husband that I had seen the World’s Saddest Dog.
Rene Saenz is the Animal Control Officer in Falfurrias. I explained to him about the dog that I saw the morning before, and asked him if he came across the dog, to call me. I gave him my cell phone number, but Mr. Saenz and I both agreed it was a long shot.
An hour later, I got a call from a 361 area code. It was Mr. Saenz. “I got your dog!” he exclaimed. “He’s so gentle, he jumped in my truck when I gave him some dog food!” I wasn’t headed back to Falfurrias for a couple of days, but Mr. Saenz agreed to keep the dog until I passed through again on Friday.
What am I doing? I never rescue dogs! Well, yes, I agree that dogs should be rescued, and I have adopted my fair share of pound puppies. But I had never stalked a dog in the streets before, much less in a town I was just driving through. But something about this dog struck a chord with me when I looked into its dirty black, bleary eyes. I had to have that dog.
I changed my work schedule for the week, and returned home a day early so I could pick up Butters. Falfurrias is famous for the fine brand of butter formerly produced in the town (however, it is still the home to the Fighting Jerseys football team,) so I figured Butters was a fitting name.
Exiting San Antonio was fraught with delays, rain, traffic…Mr. Saenz left work at 5:00pm and I was running late. Was I going to make it? I called, and Mr. Saenz said to be careful on the road, and to take my time. Still, it was Friday, and I didn’t want him waiting too long for me.
I got to Falfurrias Animal Control at 5:45. Mr. Saenz was patiently waiting for me. I felt rather sheepish that I was so late, but grateful for his kindness. Not only did he wait for me, but he was the one that had collected the dog when I called. I had stopped briefly on the way to Falfurrias, and had picked up a Whataburger gift card for Mr. Saenz. It wasn’t much, but I appreciated all of his help.
Mr. Saenz banged on the kennel, and called for the dog to come over. Quietly, Butters came over to the kennel door. Mr. Saenz had washed the dog, but it was still filthy. Such a defeated doggy demeanor.
We got Butters into the travel crate, and into the back of my truck. I was sorry I couldn’t put the dog in the truck with me, but we had luggage, plus Butters reeked.
Speaking of help, Richard, the manager at Petco in San Antonio had been unusually kind as well. He said he was from Laredo, and knew our area of South Texas had countless animals that needed help. Travel crates are not cheap, and frankly, I spent the remainder of my monthly lunch money on it. Richard found a tie cable in the sale bin ($3.00) and I also bought a collar. I was nervous that since Butters was a street dog, that he would take off in the night. The tie down cable was going to be temporary, but necessary for the first week.
My son Lorenzo was riding back home with me, and we flew down the road, to get Butters secured in his new home. My husband met us when we got there. Butters had not enjoyed his trip, and had lost control of his stomach during the ride. We unloaded him, and quickly put him on a leash. Butters walked around a bit, and continued to empty himself across the lawn. I looked for signs of internal parasites, but instead found a shockingly large plastic wrapper that the dog had ingested. Butters needed a lot of help.
My husband Kiko and I bathed the dog for about an hour, pulling off ticks, washing wounds, inspecting and soothing. And oh, the fleas. A galaxy of ticks and fleas.
Getting a Bath
Butters had no trust. He was paralyzed, as if waiting for something bad to happen. When we had finished, we put the collar on Butters, and attached him to the tie down. Kiko fixed up the doghouse, so Butters had a shelter for the night.
A Local Gawker
As we were cleaning up, we noticed that Butters had decided to roll in the mud. He hadn’t liked the aroma of his flea bath, I suppose, so he rolled in stink to bring familiarity to his new life. He ended up dirtier than when I picked him up from Animal Control.
Did not care for the aroma of shampoo, mud is better
After a couple of hours of settling down, I brought some food and water to Butters. He gulped down a gallon of water, and a pound of Meow Mix (its all I had.) He wagged his tail a bit, but didn’t seem to want to be petted. I let him rest for the night, and planned to get him to the vet early the next morning.