Imagine driving home at night from a long business trip. You pull into a rest stop, thinking to get a quick soda to perk you up. And instead, you see a pair of legs sticking out from under the machine. What would you do?
A Reporter, A Soda, and A Pair of Legs…Or Two
Reporter BJ Nemeth of Atlanta, Georgia, was driving home after a work-related trip. Nemeth is a poker tournament reporter and travels the country attending poker events and writing about them. In late May of 2018, Nemeth stopped at a rest stop off the I-85 in Alabama to grab a soda. And then he saw this.
I found a stray dog living behind a Coke Vending Machine at a rest stop in Alabama (I-85 North, just East of Exit 42). When I saw the hind legs sticking out, for a brief moment I thought it was
@BriscoMutt. I had to do a double-take.
BriscoMutt is Nemeth’s dog, and apparently, this dog could have been his twin. The dog looked up as the reporter snapped a pic. She wasn’t scared, but she didn’t seem quite comfortable with Nemeth getting too close. This was because, as Nemeth would learn, the dog had been alone and wild for a long time — possibly for most of her life.
Who was this dog, and why was she living behind a vending machine at an interstate rest stop? Nemeth had a terrible feeling that someone had dumped her. The nearest exit was at least six miles away. In addition, this one didn’t see a lot of traffic. Nemeth knew that the chances of this dog, whom he named Soda Pup, finding her way home were slim. And the chances that she’d find enough to eat and drink were even slimmer. He had to help.
Nemeth started by calling local veterinary offices and rescue organizations. He wanted to see if anyone had reported a dog like Soda Pup missing. But no one had. It was getting late. Nemeth knew that helping Soda Pup would be up to him. He told the Dodo,
“I felt like, ‘If I don’t do this, I don’t think anyone will.’ I was not leaving this dog.”
So he bought some snacks from one of the other vending machines and started trying to earn the mystery dog’s trust.
Social Media to the Rescue
Slowly but surely, Soda Pup allowed Nemeth to get closer. Eventually, he was able to wrap her in a towel and pick her up. Nemeth photographed and Tweeted the entire exchange. And soon, a large number of people were following the story on social media.
Nemeth usually travels with his dog, Brisco, but Brisco wasn’t with him on that trip. Also, Nemeth wasn’t traveling with his usual complement of dog snacks, water dishes, leashes, etc. He was also understandably concerned about traveling with a stray for the remaining two hours of his journey.
Eventually, a representative from a vet’s office in Auburn, Alabama, returned Nemeth’s call. She agreed to personally come and “fetch” Soda Pup. But she never showed up.
Finally, Nemeth decided to risk disease, fleas, and his own dog’s wrath, and take Soda Pup back to Atlanta with him.
What Happened Next
Nemeth’s next plan was to take Soda Pup to the Atlanta Humane Society. Unfortunately, he arrived home at 3:00 AM — well past the Humane Society’s closing time. He tried to get her out of the car, using his own dog’s leash. But, being unused to a leash, Soda Pup refused. After giving her water, and trying to give her food (she didn’t like the Cheerios he offered) Nemeth ended up sleeping in the car with her.
Unfortunately, the Atlanta Humane Society wasn’t able to take Soda Pup either. Local regulations require that animals be surrendered to the animal control center nearest to where they were found. This is so that every attempt can be made to find the animal’s owner. What else was there to do, but to bring her into the house?
On Her Way Home
Unfortunately, because of conflicts with other dogs in Nemeth’s home, Soda Pup wouldn’t be able to remain there. Which was a shame, because, after a bath and some food, she cleaned up pretty well. Not only that but once she relaxed, she turned out to be very affectionate. In fact, Nemeth told the Dodo that he surely would have kept Soda Pup, if not for the conflicts.
But never fear. One of Nemeth’s friends agreed to adopt Soda Pup. And she was off again — this time to a fur-ever home in Dallas, Texas.