At the young age of 10, my father felt like I was ready for my first deer hunt after years of observing wildlife as they moved about the ranch. Armadillos digging in the sand, opossums maneuvering through fallen leaves, deer quietly and gracefully making their way to the watering hole, as well as raccoons, turkeys and coyotes. My love for the outdoors, which lead to my tomboy style, goes back as far as I can remember. From fishing trips to the Guadalupe River, camping excursions to state parks and many trips to wildlife museums.
As I grew up, I married my best friend who also had a love for the outdoors. We spent over 20 years living and traveling abroad, from the spectacular sights and sounds of the Amazon River in South America, to sitting in a Land Rover amongst a pride of lions in the wild lands of Africa, to observing the giant panda of China. To share the wonders of such vast lands and sit amongst its inhabitants is a thrill with no description.
While I thought quite often, "What else could I see," I never dreamt in a million years that I would see the most bizarre animal of all, on my own ranch in Cuero, Texas: an animal that I watched for two years, move around in the early morning of summer heat and in the last evenings of fall, with a gait I had never seen before. A different-looking animal that appeared bald, walked with a slight hump in its back, that would look back at me, as if to say: "What are you looking at?" I was amazed at each sighting only to wonder just exactly what this "thing" was that I was observing. Its appearance indicated it must be a canine, but nothing like I had ever witnessed in all my years of observing wildlife. It was not long after several sightings that I began to find my chickens, killed, but left for other predators to carry off and savor.
I began sharing my story with fellow ranchers of the sightings of this creature and the dead chickens, prying their minds for any suggestions or thoughts as to what they thought. Some laughed at my description of this animal, some were were concerned for my safety and others wondered if it was just a mangy coyote. And then there were those that called it a "Chupacabra" -- a word I had never heard of, and certainly not an animal I was familiar with. While months, then years, continued to pass with sporadic sightings and the chicken mutilation continuing, I became more perplexed as to the mystery of this animal. Unfortunately, it met its untimely demise when it was hit by a vehicle in front of our ranch. After years of saying I would like to have an opportunity to test the DNA of this creature, my chance laid right in front of me. While my disbelief was beyond description, I could hardly wait to get a tissue sample for DNA testing with the hope of putting to rest all speculations. And as the saying goes, "The rest is history."
This animal may look like a dog, but a researcher in Cuero, Texas, believes it may be a chupacabra, a so-far mythical creature that allegedly sucks the blood from its prey.
Dr. Phylis Canion, who found the animal on the side of a Texas road in 2007, says the animal weighs about 40 pounds and has steel blue eyes, a snout with an overbite, and strange skin closer to an elephant's epidermis than the hair associated with canines like wolves or coyotes.
Canion believes the animal may live underground, but eyewitnesses have seen the creature running along Texas roads as fast as 35 mph.
There have been hundreds of sightings of similar animals all over East Texas, but Canion has the only creature that has been found and analyzed.
DNA tests of the animal, which has been called the "Texas Blue Dog," say that it is a hybrid of a coyote on the maternal side and a Mexican wolf on the paternal side.
Cuero says the DNA evidence is compelling, but there are still questions to be answered. For instance, some species of wolves have blue eyes, but the Mexican Wolf is not one of them.
Canion said before she found her "Texas Blue Dog," she had lost 28 chickens on her ranch in a strange manner: Each chicken was opened in the throat and all the blood was drained out.
Canion said it's important to catch a "Blue Dog" that is alive, but has had problems convincing her fellow Texans. "Everyone in Texas carries a gun, but I don't want to annihilate them. I want to [shoot them with a tranquilizer dart] and get the DNA."
Canion will discuss the "Texas Blue Dog" on "The Unexplained Files," a Science Channel show airing Aug. 28, 2012. <a href="http://www.cuerochupacabra.com/id1.html" target="_hplink">She also has a website</a> dedicated to her research.