Just before Hurricane Harvey hit the Texas coast, Salvador Segovia left his grandson’s dog, Otis, in his screened-in back porch, along with food and water.
But the storm must have scared Otis, so he busted open the screen door and ran away on Friday night in Sinton, not far from Corpus Christi.
“I stuck my head out yelling and yelling, and no Otis,” Segovia said. “The following morning, I got out and kept yelling, circled the block and everything, and nothing. We didn’t know where Otis was.”
Meanwhile on Saturday morning, Tiele Dockens was on her way to check on the houses of some friends and families who had evacuated when something caught her attention. A dog was walking down a street, carrying a big bag of dog food.
“It’s like he’s on a mission,” said Dockens, who lives a few miles away from the Segovias. “I just thought it was so cute.”
So she took a picture and shared it on her Facebook page. The photo quickly went viral, and the dog became an online celebrity.
Dockens said the dog looked familiar. In a town of about 5,000 people, she said it’s likely she has seen him before. As she followed the dog to make sure he wasn’t lost, she ended up outside Segovia’s house.
“This lady comes by and tells me, ‘Is that your dog coming down the road?’ ” Segovia said. “And I turn around, there comes Otis, and he’s carrying food!”
The brown German shepherd mix with a dark snout and slightly droopy ears walked up to the front porch, set down the bag of food, and lay on the floor, Segovia said.
Otis was a local celebrity in Sinton long before he became a viral sensation. Everywhere Otis went — at the county courthouse, local antique shops, the grocery store — everybody seems to know him. And people always feed him.
“He’s got a real sad-looking face and people just admire him whenever they see him,” Segovia said.
Otis also likes to take off alone, and he knows his way around town. Sometimes, he goes to the local Dairy Queen, where someone gives him some ice cream or hamburger, Segovia said. He likes to stop by a local lumber and building supply store that sells dog food. The owners always feed him.
“Otis is a smart dog,” Segovia said. “He knows where to go pick up a treat.”
Segovia said Otis might have walked over to the lumber store before he was found Saturday morning. He thinks Otis somehow got inside and grabbed a bag of Ol’ Roy dog food.
“I’m thinking he picked up that dog food and he knew where it was,” he said. “Nobody was there to feed him, and he picks up the dog food.”
Segovia said he had been watching Otis for his 5-year-old grandson, Carter, who left Sinton with his parents to escape the storm.
Otis is probably about 6 years old, Segovia said. He found the dog when he was just a puppy. A man who was driving around stopped by one day, and said he was planning to just leave the dog somewhere, unless Segovia wanted it.
“I said, ‘No, no, no, leave him here, we’ll keep him,’ ” Segovia said. “He left the dog here, and it became my grandson’s dog.”