Written by Ed Kostro of Illinois
I first learned about this homeless street orphan from a police officer friend of mine more than a year and a half ago. She had discovered this poor dog roaming a huge vacant lot adjacent to some railroad tracks, and she immediately took pity on her and began feeding her. But this dog was extremely skittish and wary of people, so she asked me if I could trap her.
Thus began more than a year and a half long odyssey in our attempts to rescue her. I soon started going out to these railroad tracks just about every day myself and setting up my dog traps with all sorts of enticing bait, but she just would not enter any of the traps, no matter the bait, and I, like Police Officer Barb, could not get within 50 feet of her.
I began watching this poor dog and following her movements along the railroad tracks, and I eventually discovered a tiny wooden shelter located in a huge clump of trees adjacent to the tracks that she slept in every night. Although we knew where she slept, I feared crawling inside it, not wanting to spook her out and away from her little sanctuary.
There were three of us going out to the feeding station that we had set up for this poor street orphan in that vacant lot adjacent to the railroad tracks, but we just could not figure out a way to rescue this extremely wary and skittish dog. We eventually learned that she had been out on these railroad tracks for the past three years, and until about two years ago, she had lived in that make-shift wooden shelter in that clump of trees by the tracks with a homeless man. We also sadly learned that this homeless person had simply vanished one day, and since then, this poor dog had to fend for herself.
Our third very determined pet rescuer named Katie eventually read about a man who had lost his beloved pet in the deep dark woods, and his dog would also not enter any dog trap. In his frustration over this, he decided to construct his own dog trap – an extremely huge Monster Trap – and it worked. So Katie arranged to borrow this man’s Monster Trap and it was soon hauled out to the railroad tracks in a pick-up truck. It took us nearly an hour to put it together out there, and once we did, we filled it with every type of mouth-watering food that we could think of from roast beef and baked chicken to sardines and salmon. We even hung hot dogs (this dog’s favorite food) on strings from its mesh ceiling.
Then we retreated to our vehicles to hide and to wait for this extremely wary street orphan to come down from the tracks in search of her daily meal. We prayed that this borrowed home-made Monster Trap would work since winter was fast approaching once more, and we really wanted to spare this poor dog another frigid winter out on the tracks.
After about an hour of hiding and waiting, we finally spotted her coming across the vacant lot towards the trap, and we prayed even harder. But as we watched in dismay, this extremely wary dog darted in and out of the Monster Trap at least four times without walking all the way into it.
On her fifth attempt, she walked to the back of the trap, and the massive door slammed behind her. This homeless dog’s three year ordeal living out here on these railroad tracks was finally over, and Police Officer Barb, Katie, and myself, were all overjoyed.
As the three of us have witnessed many times before, once trapped, this extremely skittish and wary dog transformed into an extremely sweet and affectionate dog – a dog that was now enjoying our gentle pets and soothing words. She soon fell fast asleep in the back seat of my truck, now also enjoying its warmth and softness after spending the last three years sleeping on the cold hard ground.
After a brief stay at the animal hospital, Katie, who had named this street orphan ‘Etta,’ whisked her away once more to her new adopted home, where deserving Etta is now truly enjoying life once more, and where she loves being petted, talked to, pampered and walked about in the park. She also really enjoys falling fast asleep on her plush new dog bed.
Etta is doing wonderfully now and can’t get enough attention.