They call me Sam. It’s short for Samantha. I haven’t had that name for very long but that’s what my foster family decided to name me. I like it and know they’re talking to me when they call me now. I came to live with my foster family on Good Friday (April 21, 2011). That was a rough day for me, but looking back on it now, things worked out much better than I thought they were going to when I woke up to some man (my foster dad) trying to capture me with a rabies pole around my neck. I didn’t know it at the time but my foster mom and dad played a trick on me. The pills they put into those hot dogs I inhaled actually had a dog sedative in them and they made me very sleepy. The hot dogs didn’t fill me up so I started to cross back under the freeway to go look for some more food but I ended up passing out underneath the bridge near my old home.
I used to live at the very busy intersection of Highway 90 & Beltway 8 in east Houston. There was lots of traffic in the area but I had been living there on my own for quite some time. The homeless man who sometimes slept under the bridge near my former home told my foster dad that I had been there since at least January when he first started using my bridge, but that I had never let myself get too close to him or anyone else for that matter. I was terrified of people and if anyone tried to approach me I would take off light a bolt of lightning. I was fast and no one could catch me. I was street smart and very familiar with the four corners of the world I lived in. I even knew that it was safer for me to come out at night to search for my dinner. I slept in the drainage ditch during the day so that no one could see me or bother me. I was even smart enough to walk down to the red light before I crossed the busy road, and even waited for the lights to change. I was a creature of habit and had a daily (well, nightly routine). I lived off the trash that people threw out, or sometimes food that good Samaritans would leave me. No one knows how I ended up there but it was the only life I knew, and I trusted no one.
When my foster mom found out about me after a nice lady posted about me on craigslist, she drove out to see if she could spot me and was hoping that I’d hop up into her truck after she offered me some food. Ha! She was sadly mistaken. When I saw her approaching me I took off running and at one point she was afraid she’d caused me to get hit by a car, but I didn’t. I ran off and hid from her in the brush along one side of the road until she finally gave up and left. Luckily for me she still felt sorry for me even after I dodged her and she left some food and water out for me.
Over the next two weeks she came and left me food and water and made several attempts to try to catch me but I was just too smart for her. Whenever I would see her truck pulling up into my “triangle” that I liked to lounge around in, I would take off to the other side of the bridge and wait for her to get the hint and leave.
One night she came looking for me late at night with some guy and he chased me around with a flash light but I outsmarted him. She actually thought that he could catch me! Then another night she put some food out for me but it smelled really bad because she put something in it to make me sleepy but I smelled it and wouldn’t touch the food. She brought a friend with her and they sat parked under the bridge in her truck for like five hours waiting on me to eat that stinky food. I was beginning to think she was stalking me and just wished she would leave me alone. I did appreciate the food I had learned to count on every evening, but she just wasn’t getting the hint that I didn’t like people and she wasn’t going to get close to me.
Then one night she brought my foster dad out with her to try to catch me, and again, I smelled that stinky food and wouldn’t touch it. They sat for hours in lawn chairs in the back of their truck watching me with binoculars. I laid down in my special spot by the food (they thought I ate it!) and my foster dad managed to get pretty close to me before I heard him but I darted as soon as I saw him. There was no catching me.
My foster mom says she saw something special in me the first time she saw me and her OCD (whatever that is) kicked in and she couldn’t quit thinking about me out there all alone, skinny, living among all those cars and big trucks whizzing past me. Her friends and family thought she was crazy and thought she was going to get mugged by the homeless man or hit by a car if she kept coming out there to feed and try to catch me.
My foster mom called her vet (who is also her cousin) for advice on using sedatives to catch me and he told her he would give her pills instead of the liquid stuff and that’s how she ended up tricking me. I smelled those hot dogs and had no idea there were pills stuffed inside of them. Sigh!
Her cousin was concerned about me biting anyone who tried to catch me so he loaned them a rabies pole, just like dog catchers use, and that’s how my foster dad was able to catch me. I ended up passing out and was in a pretty deep sleep when he snuck up on me, but when I felt him trying to slip the noose of the pole under my snout I woke up, flailing and fighting! It was traumatic for me, and especially for my foster dad. He had to fight with me because I totally panicked and immediately started attacking the pole that he still managed to get over my neck just as I started flailing and we had a pretty good little battle and kicked up quite a bit of dust before I became totally submissive and just froze. My foster mom rushed over with the truck and the kennel that I struggled to keep from being put into. I was barking and biting at the wire cage, but I was only scared. I wasn’t trying to hurt them. I was still pretty groggy and terrified. My foster dad is a police officer and he told my foster mom that the struggle he just had with me was one of the scariest things he had ever experienced and that he would rather fight with a bad person than to struggle with a dog like he just had. I heard him say he had a new respect for dog catchers. Apparently, when I suddenly woke up fighting for my life it scared him pretty bad! He said he almost let go of the pole but he knew I would run out into traffic dragging a pole around my neck so he held on. I didn’t fight for long before I froze, but it was an intense struggle.
I finally got a closer look at the crazy lady who had been stalking me. She was smiling and hugging him and thanking him over and over for catching me. I just laid there in the kennel, still groggy, wondering how I’d been duped and where they were taking me. I was terrified but had no way out. I just knew whatever I was in store for couldn’t be good.