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This Dog Was Found Starving To Death On A Remote Island. But Six Months On She’s A Different Animal

Image: Facebook/Play for Strays
After the rush of David Foster’s daily life, it was a relief to be on vacation – in the Amazon, no less. That’s why what he saw next struck him as so strange. Was that really an emaciated dog on a nearby beach in the middle of nowhere? Then, as if in answer, the bag of bones ran towards him.
Image: Facebook/Play for Strays
Foster, from Northern Ireland in the U.K., isn’t a man prone to sitting still. Indeed, his regular job, which revolves around equipment for the medical industry, requires a lot of traveling. And he also has a fulfilling personal side project focused on his real love: dogs.
Image: Facebook/Play for Strays
In December 2017 Foster told iHeartDogs how he first decided to combine his work and his passion. He said, “All this traveling is boring. So I would go to local animal shelters wherever I may be and give a few toys or balls for their animals.”
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These acts of animal kindness took on their own momentum with the help of his friends and relations. It got to the point where whenever Foster went away on business, people donated toys for him to give to the shelters. In time, he had social media followers sending gifts to take, too.
Image: mariusz kluzniak
The upshot was that Foster had enough regular donations to form a charity called Play for Strays. And after many months of hard work combined with shelter visits, the animal lover decided to take a well-earned break. His vacation of choice was a relaxing cruise up the Amazon in Brazil.
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The dream vacation took Foster to some isolated places, a big change from the hustle and bustle of his normal routine. “When we stopped at this random island, the plan was to go swimming and snorkeling then have a lunch,” he told iHeartDogs. “Idyllic, really.”
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Image: Michel Rathwell
Then Foster spotted an unusual shape from the boat that he initially dismissed as driftwood. Closer inspection with binoculars, however, revealed that the object wasn’t beach debris at all. “I could tell immediately that it was a dog,” Foster recalled. But the boat owner didn’t seem concerned.
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In fact, the boat owner initially thought the dog’s owners were likely to be nearby. But then he did some reconnaissance with his drone and confirmed that the boat was at least two hours’ travel from the nearest settlement. Foster later described the dog’s moving reaction when she noticed them.
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“As the guys who were snorkeling came back on the rowboat, [the dog] plunged into the water,” Foster told iHeartDogs. He then left the boat and met the dog on the beach. “It was a pitiful sight, and I’m surprised she had the energy to swim and run so far.”
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Foster also said the dog was crying, which almost brought him to tears as well. And when he got a better look at the castaway, Foster realized just how dire her condition was. He even predicted that she was perhaps 48 hours away from death.
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Certainly, the abandoned dog was stick-thin, infested with ticks and fleas and had suffered cuts to her ears. She had apparently been abused, too, and exposure to the scorching sun had taken its toll. It was a mark of her poor condition that vultures were tracking her in expectation of a meal.
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“No way could I leave her here to fend for herself, no way,” Foster told iHeartDogs. He and another of the boat’s passengers called the dog Negrita, a Spanish term of endearment which translates as “cute little black girl.” Then they convinced the boat’s catering staff to feed her.
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The boat’s staff further agreed to take Negrita with them to get her medical attention. Finding the dog a vet, however, proved difficult. So Foster had to treat Negrita’s parasites with store-bought pet medicine. The castaway also charmed some kind-hearted children, who helped bathe her and remove her ticks.
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By the time Foster found Negrita medical care, then, he’d already fallen hopelessly in love with her. “I have decided to get her to the U.K.,” he told iHeartDogs. “Dogs are not loved here like we do in the U.K. [and] my heart wouldn’t allow her to stay.”
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It wasn’t entirely up to him, though. When Foster finally found a veterinarian in Santarém town, the vet told him that Negrita’s fate would depend on her test results. “Her tests included canine leishmaniasis and cinomosis,” the animal lover informed iHeartDogs.
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If Negrita had contracted leishmaniasis, the vet would have had no option but to put her to sleep. Foster had to wait a day for the dog’s results. He described it as “the longest 24 hours of my life.” The wait was worth it, though; the vet gave her the all-clear.
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Image: Facebook/Play for Strays
Next, Foster focused on the final phase of Negrita’s journey completely, even cutting short the rest of his planned Amazon adventure. Negrita was in good hands in the meantime, though; the rescuer’s Play for Strays contacts found her a loving temporary home. Additionally, Foster found support from social media.
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Image: Facebook/Play for Strays
Indeed, Play for Strays followers helped provide Foster with financial support via crowd-funding. And the gargantuan effort paid off when on February 26, 2018, Foster made an announcement. In it, he said he expects to have a confirmed travel date for his “Amazon Girl” very soon.
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Asked for the rationale behind his decision to do so much to save one animal, Foster told iHeartDogs, “I’ve seen hundreds of dogs in shelters, but they are safe, fed and hopefully loved. Stray dogs in cities are also a prevalent sight, but they can potentially find food.”
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Foster said he felt a special connection with this castaway. “Negrita was beaten and left for dead in a place where she couldn’t survive,” he explained. “She wasn’t a stray. She was abandoned to die and chose me to save her. It may take time, but I will do it.”

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