She loved to drive on the highway. With nothing but a few other cars between her and the open road, she leaned over to turn the radio up when she heard her favorite song come on.
Suddenly, out of the blue, the screeching of tires ahead of her made her snap to attention. Peering over the wheel to see what had happened, she saw something brown dash across the road.
Andrea Athie from Cuidad Victoria, Mexico, was an avid animal lover. She donated to the many shelters in the area and often volunteered her time for animal welfare.
And whenever she saw a stray dog, cat, or any other animal that needed her help, she always did what she could. But this time, she was about to get herself into a world of trouble…
A Stray Dog
She stopped her car abruptly and pulled over; looking for the animal that she had seen dash across the road. It didn’t take long for her to find it. When she saw that it was a dog, her heart broke.
With no other choice, she knew she had to rush the poor animal to the nearest vet in the area… before it was too late.
There were two things running through Andrea’s mind as she spied the dog on the side of the road. One was that someone had abandoned him or he had gotten lost — he was thin and obviously had an injury.
But the other, more pressing, issue was how she was going to get him into her car. Either way, she was left with no choice. She only hoped that he was friendly.
Andrea approached the dog carefully and slowly, trying not to startle it. But, despite being in pain, he wagged his tail and eagerly approached her. It was almost as if he knew that she was trying to help.
She managed to shepherd him into the car. But she’d overlooked a very important detail.
Searching For The Owner
Andrea snapped a few pictures of the cute dog, hoping that if she shared them on social media his owner would see them and come forward. He was brown and grey in color and rather large, like a German shepherd or a husky mix.
Andrea’s heart melted when he covered her face with doggy kisses. But when she got to the vet, things started to get a bit weird.
Andrea was growing quite attached to the dog, so she decided to call him Pancho. But when she arrived at the vet, people were not impressed.
The vet was part of an animal rescue center, so Andrea hoped that the dog would be cared for until they were able to find a new home for him. Little did she know, it wouldn’t be so easy.
Taking To Social Media
Before Andrea handed the impossibly friendly pup over to the capable people at the animal center, she snapped some more photos to remember him by.
She wanted to post these pictures on social media again and see if she could get a lead as to who Pancho’s owner was. Or was there more to this story?
Causing A Stir
Other than a cruel-hearted human owner who had abandoned Pancho, there may be another theory. It crossed Andrea’s mind. Perhaps, and it was unlikely, but just perhaps a stray mother dog had given birth in that area.
But Pancho was so friendly that she couldn’t help but think that he had had a loving home once. Meanwhile, her photos were causing quite a stir on Twitter and Facebook.
While she sat with Poncho, who had his head in her lap, waiting to be seen by the vet, Andrea scrolled through the comments on the pictures she had posted. But what she found out on Facebook wasn’t what she expected.
Instead of offers of good homes for Pancho, people started saying some pretty strange things.
When a keen-eyed Facebook user saw the photos of the adorable pup on Facebook, she took a double-take. She didn’t want to cause a stir if she wasn’t right, so she carefully checked her information.
What immediately stood out was the dog’s snout. But there was another telltale sign that Pancho wasn’t a dog at all!
What Is It?
Suddenly, Andrea’s Facebook post exploded with people starting to speculate as to what the “dog” could be. Hundreds of posts came through in minutes, flooding the post with speculation and doubt. Wolfdog experts weighed in, and anything and everything seemed to be fair game in the contest of ‘what animal is it?’ Some of the suggestions were astonishing.
That’s when Andrea realized that she may have made a huge mistake.
Not A Dog
The general public seemed to think that Pancho was not a pup at all, in fact, one commenter was completely sure that he was something else entirely. There were specific details that lead people to believe that Andrea hadn’t found a stray dog.
For one, he had a long nose. Sure, it could be that some dogs have long noses, but there were other strange things, too.
Another Facebook user noticed that Pancho’s tail was unlike any pup’s he had ever seen. It was long… very long. To him, he was sure that the pup was, in fact, some type of wild dog.
But why had he allowed Andrea to pick him up and drive him to the vet? Something wasn’t adding up here.
Posting the pictures online seemed to be getting Andrea nowhere, everything was speculation and guesswork. Her initial reason for posting online was simply to see if they could find where the ‘pup’ came from and, in the best-case scenario, to see if they could secure a wonderful forever home for the abandoned fur-baby.
But when the vet pointed at Pancho’s ears, Andrea knew.
The information Andrea received was something that sent shock waves through her. It came directly from a vet, so she knew the information was founded on truth and knowledge.
One thing was for certain now, Pancho wasn’t what he seemed to be. And he definitely wasn’t a dog at all.
A Wild Coyote
“Today my sister picked up a COYOTE thinking it was a run over dog and took it to the vet,” her brother Alejandro Athie tweeted, along with the photos of Andrea with the friendly coyote snuggling in her lap.
But although Anthea had now realized her mistake, her feelings for Pancho hadn’t changed. But would he make it?
Andrea tweeted, “Coyote Pancho today begins a 5-day treatment to see if he can recover mobility in his back legs… He doesn’t want to eat or cooperate to try to move after his treatments.”
Sadly, things weren’t looking good for the friendly coyote. He had broken bones in his one leg and was refusing to eat. But then, a miracle happened.
The rehabilitation center posted an update about their patient’s well being. The vets noted that the fact that the coyote did not attack Andrea or the attending officers was a sign that he was “pretty banged up.”
But, happily, he is regaining his appetite and strength each day. They plan to release Pancho back into the wild as soon as he is ready.
People from all over the world had seen Andrea’s story, and soon she and Pancho had become an online sensation. Conservationists were quick to point out the lesson in Andrea’s tale.
Handling wildlife should always be conducted by a professional to promote the safety of both the animal and the people rescuing it. But Andrea’s confusion between domestic dogs and coyotes is a common one — they are similar in size, shape, and coloring.