Lucas Babbitt first spotted Houdini in an alley behind Alderson Street and Richmond Avenue. Turns out, he wasn’t the only one.
In late November, Babbitt posted about the stray on Nextdoor and received hundreds of comments from neighbors who had also seen the little white dog with black markings roaming the neighborhood near Teeter’s Faucet Parts, the Wells Fargo building and throughout Lakewood.
But would-be rescuers couldn’t capture the aptly named Houdini.
“I stopped and tried to get him, and he bolted,” neighbor Pat Travis said. “He ran like crazy and was crossing major streets.”
Concerned about the animal’s welfare, Travis put a cardboard box with blankets and food in a parking lot across the street from Times Ten Cellars. She taped a piece of paper with her phone number on the box and received several calls from neighbors who wanted to donate food.
Travis kept the box stocked with food and checked on it multiple times a day. During one of her visits, she met Babbitt, who contacted the rescue organization Duck Team 6 to capture the dog.
In December, about a month after Babbitt posted on Nextdoor, Duck Team 6 put food in a cage at Houdini’s favorite dinner spot. A wireless camera in the cage alerted the team when Houdini appeared, and he was captured later that day.
“It took a month, but everyone hung in there and did not give up on this dog,” Travis said.
The dog did not have a collar or a chip, so Lucas and has partner signed up to foster the dog, which they later adopted. Houdini quickly made friends with the couple’s older dogs, a Scotty named Jager and a Chihuahua named Ruby Redbird. The couple renamed Houdini as Topo Chico so as not to break the family tradition of naming dogs after beverages.
“It didn’t take him long to come out of his shell,” Babbitt said. “Now he loves humans. It’s funny how quickly he changed his attitude. It feels like he’s been a part of our family forever.”
Even after he was caught, neighbors wanted to send food or money to help Babbitt care for the animal. Instead, Babbitt encouraged everyone to donate to Duck Team 6 or Dallas Pets Alive!
The owner still keeps neighbors informed on Topo Chico’s progress via Nextdoor. He can now go to the bathroom outside and walk on a leash. He even has a special collar that prevents any escape attempts while on walks.
Topo Chico loves heaters, playing with Babbitt’s cat, Bernie, and chewing on shoes.
“It’s been crazy and inspiring,” Babbitt said. “I think that’s why it blew up on Nextdoor. It was part of our neighborhood. We formed a little team and did what we thought was right. People fed him out of the kindness of their hearts. It was a nice transition into another year that is hopefully new and fresh and good.”