Sunday afternoon, at the Waxahachie Police Department conference room, a public meet and greet was held for Hachi, the stray Great Pyrenees dog that roamed the streets of Waxahachie for many months — eluding many attempts to capture him — until late in the night of June 26, 2018, when he was captured on the grounds of the Waxahachie Daily Light newspaper.
At the time of his capture, he was known as Hobo. This moniker was attached to him because he often roamed the areas around the railroad tracks in the southern part of the city. Citizens throughout the city put out food and water for him as he repeatedly eluded capture.
As time went by, he ventured further north. Many citizens kept track of his whereabouts to help in the effort to rescue him. He was spotted in the parking lot of the Daily Light in the late hours two nights in a row before his eventual capture the following night. These sightings led to permission being given for cameras and a trap to be set up on that property. At 11:42 p.m. on June 26, 2018, he was finally captured and no longer roamed the streets.
Dr. Kathy Rayner, the staff physician for Mutts and Mayhem Emergency Search and Rescue, immediately administered medical treatment once he was brought in and sedated.
Rayner, who has practiced veterinary medicine for thirty-five years, with a specialty in older dogs and their special needs, has seen many changes in veterinary medicine during her career and commented about the condition of the animal when he was captured.
"He was in very bad shape. There was a rope embedded in his neck. This rope was most likely put on him when he was smaller, and as he grew, it became embedded in his neck and gangrene had nearly set in. His white blood cell count was extremely high, and he had many other ailments. I believe that if he hadn't been captured when he was, he probably would have died within three or four weeks."
She added that he has made tremendous strides in his recovery, and it has taken him a long time to learn to trust.
The Daily Light also spoke with Selena Schmidt, Executive Director/CFO and Co-Founder of the Mutts and Mayhem Emergency Search and Rescue group about several matters regarding this beautiful dog who bears no resemblance to the one who roamed the streets of Waxahachie.
When asked about the name change, she said, "He was given the name Hachi after the city of Waxahachie and because we wanted to keep his roots."
Schmidt, a resident of Mckinney, now provides a "fur-ever" home to Hachi, where she says he definitely rules the roost. In the past five years, Schmidt and the Mutts and Mayhem team have rehabbed 302 dogs — and two of them were really special.
"Hachi and another dog named Chestnut are the two that are most special to me. It took twelve months to rehab Hachi."
Schmidt credits Hachi's recovery to four things: the outstanding care of Dr. Rayner, the citizens of Waxahachie feeding him, the discussion about him on social media and his tremendous will to live.
During the lengthy recovery at Rayner's ranch where her office is located, Hachi was in a long bathroom area that the vet refers to as "the magic room." There is plenty of room for the animal to move around. Many nights during his recovery, Schmidt played Zen music for him and spent many nights sleeping there on a pallet on the floor.
Looking at the before and after pictures of Hachi, it's hard to believe he is the same dog. He has quite a Facebook following on his own Facebook page. He loves to ride with Schmidt in their golf cart. He loves sitting in the seats of the home theater. He sits at the top of the stairs at the home entry — one wonders if he decides who is allowed to enter. And, boy oh boy, does he ever love vanilla wafers.
Many of the team members from the Mutts and Mayhem rescue group were in attendance Sunday afternoon as the promise was kept to bring him back to Waxahachie to meet those who loved him, fed him and prayed for him. Team members in attendance were Schmidt, Tracy Kraemer, Cindy Murray, Kacy Hendricks, Ginny Queen, Jessie Reed, Marie Haga and Rayner. All are board members of the organization. Search and Rescue team members Michael Erwin, Cathy Deady and Kathy Webb were not in attendance. Volunteer Lauren Bivens and team supporter Kim Slausen also made the trip from McKinney for the meet and greet.
Hachi has such a following that a couple drove from Plano to Waxahachie to meet him. Doreen and John Simonian made the long trip.
"We kept up with his journey on Facebook," Doreen said. "He has a big following, and it is good to see how great he looks today."
Linda Berry of Midlothian was also in attendance.
"This is the most wonderful experience of my life," Berry said. "There is so much compassion and perseverance here."
Devyn Rollo from Waxahachie joined his mother and father, Valerie and Stephen Rollo in petting and loving on Hachi.
"I like it," Devyn commented.
Waxahachie resident Jeanie Blackburn, who has kept up with this story from the very beginning, commented that "It's a miracle how he looks now."
"I was there on the night Hachi was captured," said Ennis resident, Bonnie Agee, also in attendance Sunday.
Ray Devone Fautt Jackson, the person who received permission for the camera and trap to be set up, has prayed for the day she could kiss this beautiful boy's head.
"It is very emotional seeing him after what he went through. I am so proud of his progress," Jackson said. "He was definitely placed in the place where he needed to be."
Hachi — complete with a bow tie — sat regally, although a little nervous from so many people being around, as residents had their picture taken with him. His nerves calmed when Schmidt entered the small private room where he sat, and as she said the words pretty boy, he truly smiled. Yes, happy dogs do smile.
During the meet and greet, a silent auction was held for a painting done by Tracy Kraemer from Tracy K Studios. The proceeds from the auction will go to Mutts and Mayhem Emergency Search and Rescue. This painting captures her interpretation of the animal, especially their eyes. She does a canvas painting of all the dogs the organization rescues.
As this visit enabled Hachi's story to go full circle, it was indeed a story of love, rehabilitation and community support. It is a tragic story with a very happy ending.
Rescue groups do an outstanding job serving those with no choice and no voice. Many operate on grants and donations. Donate today to help these animals. If you haven't already done so, please get your pets spayed or neutered.