Marfa Mutt Madness
Did an Austinite accidentally steal Marfa's mascot dog, Tic Tac?
Along with Prada Marfa, the lights and a treasure trove of art in the heart of the desert, Marfa visitors may also be familiar with Tic Tac, an orange-brown and white mutt who spends his days strolling about the small West Texas town. He has inspired a hashtag (#tictacmarfa), which local folks and tourists alike populate with sightings of their beloved mascot.
Unfortunately, Tic Tac has gone missing.
The cattle dog mix (who abhors wearing a collar) is famous for scaling 8-foot fences to say hello to friends. "I've had him since he was a baby and as soon as he became an adult, it became clear he was a master escape artist," says owner Gina Leiss. "He is the most determined dog." For city dwellers, it may be strange to think of a pet roaming free, but in a town that's just 1.6 square miles, neighborhood dogs like Tic Tac have the run of the place. "Sometimes he decides to roam and sometimes he decides to stay home ... he just comes [back] at night," says Leiss.
Leiss, along with her husband and two young children, first noticed Tic Tac was missing on Sunday, July 6, the closing day of this year's Marfa Film Festival. The Facebook and Instagram feeds usually populated with #tictacmarfa suddenly went dark. Neighbors reported they hadn't received a visit from the pup and George Gonzales, Marfa's animal control officer who frequently encounters Tic Tac, was placed on high alert.
More than a week after he went missing, Leiss and neighbor Genevieve Gallaway feel very strongly that Tic Tac is in Austin, scooped up by someone who thought he was just a West Texas stray in need of a good home. Last week, Leiss' neighbor, unaware that Tic Tac was missing, came to Austin for a visit. After returning home, he found out the dog was gone. The neighbor told Leiss that he saw Tic Tac sitting in a car on North Lamar Boulevard near The Tavern. "[Our neighbor] Jason ... saw Tic Tac. They locked eyes, and he said he felt like Tic Tac knew who he was," says Leiss. Since he was unaware the popular pooch had gone missing, he chalked it up to a look-a-like.
Based on the neighbor's sighting, as well as an overwhelming number of Austinites in town for the film festival, Tic Tac's family is betting he ended up in the Capital City. In fact, Gallaway feels so strongly that Tic Tac is in Austin that she's driving from Marfa on Wednesday to plaster the city with posters. She hopes that Tic Tac's very distinct markings, coupled with enough exposure, will help locals recognize the Marfa mutt. "Hopefully someone will tap the person on the shoulder and say, 'They're looking for that dog,'" says Gallaway. Both women note that they aren't mad if someone found Tic Tac charming enough to take him home. "He's extremely submissive, gets along with every dog, person, child," says Leiss.
But, a country dog at heart, his family is very worried that this escape artist will do the same thing in the big city. "It's one thing to have your dog taken, it's another to know that you're dog is an escape artist and they're going to escape from them in a town with heavy traffic," says Leiss. "That's the part that scares me the most."
If you have any information about Tic Tac (or have a friend who recently returned from West Texas with a dog), please contact Genevieve Gallaway at 432-295-3294. The family is offering a $300 reward for his recovery.