How A Stray Dog Named Subway Sally Became A TikTok Star

Subway Sally is far from the only stray dog in Portales, New Mexico, but she's definitely the smartest. Every night for the past year she's dropped by the Subway where, she's learned, the employees will give her a nice dinner if she looks up at them with big eyes and wags her tail appealingly. They're the ones who named her Subway Sally. If they're late, she'll go across the street to Taco Bell. She hasn't told any of the other dogs about this, so she doesn't have to share.

One night last week, Giovanni Luhman, a Subway employee, made a video of Sally eating dinner and posted it on TikTok. In the video, Sally graciously accepts a paper-wrapped bundle of bacon, chicken, and turkey from Luhman, and begins chowing down while he holds the paper open for her. Then he brings her a cup of water, and she gazes up at him in doggy gratitude.

The next morning, KRQE, a local TV station, reported that Luhman's video had received 10 million views, and people were coming over to Subway to get a glimpse of Sally. It didn't even matter that KRQE's report ended with a rumor that Sally might not even be a stray! "Some people"—it is unclear which people exactly—"say they see her and her puppies hanging around a nearby house."

After the video went viral, Luhman received an enormous response from viewers, including offers of money. He turned down all offers because, he told CBS, he doesn't want to profit from a stray dog. He can't adopt Sally himself because he has two cats at home, and he doesn't want to take her to the nearest shelter, 20 miles away, because it has a high kill rate.

Instead, Luhman has decided to use Sally's newfound celebrity to raise awareness of stray dogs in Portales. "There are a lot of strays in our town," he told viewers in a subsequent video. "She isn't special. "I live in a very poor town, and more, often than not, people can't pay for pet food." And so he and his Subway coworkers plan to start a pet food drive to feed the other strays in Portales and help low-income families feed their pets.

He's also not going to make any more videos of Sally. But he and his Subway coworkers will continue to feed her as long as she keeps coming by.