The engineers had heard stories of live creatures left on trains before, but this was a new one. Apparently, someone reported seeing a live animal on the top of one of their cars. At first, train staff didn’t spot anything, but when they did their blood began to boil.
Allen Au and Michael Ortega both work for the Burlington Northern Santa Fe railway (BNSF). The pair are veterans in their business; Au has twelve years of experience, and Ortega more than twenty. So you’d be forgiven for thinking they’d seen and heard it all before.
However, if their recent experience is anything to go by, the railway lines still have some surprises left. In fact, Au reported one such nasty surprise on Facebook on September 20, 2018. It occurred during a shift he and Ortega had been working on together, albeit in different roles.
Specifically, Au had been acting as train conductor on a trip from Minnesota to Missouri that day. The train had just left Galesburg when the staff received an unusual call. According to their dispatcher, a member of the public had reported something strange.
Apparently, this person had told the company that they’d seen a live animal on a train car roof. Of course, as a result of his time in the railway business, Au had heard similar tales before. But neither he nor Ortega had actually come across anything like it in the past.
The trailer in question was parked in Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin, so the engineers investigated as they passed. Initially, it didn’t look like they’d find anything. But eventually, they came across a lumber car, which is a flat-topped trailer usually reserved for transporting construction materials such as wood or sheetrock.
“We went real slow, almost to the end of the train, and parked at the end was a lumber car,” Au explained to website the Dodo. “I thought, ‘that must be it.’”
“But as we drove by we didn’t see anything,” the conductor continued. As a result, the team decided to get a better look, so Au jumped onto the lumber car. It didn’t take too long for him to find what he was searching for.
After a brief glance around, Au found something that both broke his heart and enraged him. The report was indeed correct. Someone had tied a brown female Labrador-Weimaraner cross puppy to one of the car’s steel girders. She had no water and very little food.
What morsels the dog’s owner had provided were unreachable, thanks to a foot-long chain binding her. “They had left food for the dog up on the train,” Au told the Dodo. “But it had shifted all to one side, so the dog couldn’t get to it.”
The wet weather the food had been exposed to also made it inedible. “For the majority of the past few days it had been raining up here,” the conductor explained. “So all the food was wet, soaked and looked like mush.”
Au couldn’t believe what he was seeing, and so called Ortega over to assist him with the pup. The dog’s owner had neglected her, leaving the poor pooch exposed to weather extremes. The engineers estimated that she had probably been on the train car for two or even three days.
Au and Ortega didn’t know how the dog would respond to them, so they approached her cautiously. However, although she was initially nervous, the engineers needn’t have worried. It turned out she was very pleased to see her rescuers, as Ortega later described.
“Her little tail was wagging, which was amazing after all she’d been through,” the engineer told The Dodo. So they unchained the pup and took her back to the warmth of their train. They also provided her with some food and much-needed water.
The pup must have been thirsty, since Ortega recalled she “drank like crazy.” Then it was just a matter of what to do with the abandoned dog. However, Ortega had already decided that, one way or another, the dog would find a new home.
Ortega discussed the matter with Au, during which he said, “If you don’t adopt her, I will.” For his part, Au owned five dogs and couldn’t possibly take on another. So Ortega decided to take the pup home himself.
And so the engineer took his new fur baby – whom he named Lulu – to the vets. Fortunately, it was good news – aside from being a little underweight, she was healthy. And on Lulu’s first night in her new home, both Ortega and his wife fell in love with the pup.
“We stayed with her, watching her, like new parents would,” Ortega said. “It was just so sweet, she’s a very good girl.” And not only did Lulu get a pair of loving humans, she also found herself with several new doggie brothers and sisters.
“They all play and bring toys to one another,” Ortego described. “And it’s awesome to watch because that’s how it should be. She fits right in. It’s like she came into our home, and she’s been there the entire time.”
“She belongs here with us,” Ortega continued, “and we’re very blessed to have her.” It’s unlikely we’ll ever find out who Lulu previously belonged to or why she was tied to a flatbed train car. But the important thing is, she now has a loving home, and she’ll never be left in the cold again.