9 min read

Starving Dog Approaches Men On Boat Pleading For Help

She was so weak and skinny that vultures were starting to follow her 💔

When David Foster took a trip to the Amazon last fall, he was excited to explore the jungles and sail to the island beaches off the coasts.

The thought never crossed his mind then that he’d save someone’s life there — until he saw Negrita.

“We were sailing and decided to stop at this beautiful beach,” Foster told The Dodo. “And then off in the distance I saw a dog. I thought, ‘Why is she out here? It seems a bit remote’ … We hadn’t seen any villages for quite some time.”

Foster's first sight of Negrita | PlayforStrays

The island was practically deserted, aside from a few people who’d arrived in another boat. Foster called the dog over, hoping to see if she belonged to the other group.

“She came running towards me,” Foster said. “And that’s when I noticed how bad off she was.”

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PlayforStrays

The dog was covered in fleas and ticks, and her ears were sliced open and bloody. Her black fur was thin and patchy — and her bald spots revealed bruises all across her skeletal body.

She was so gaunt, in fact, that Foster noticed vultures circling around the skies above her.

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PlayforStrays

“It looked as if someone had beaten her,” Foster said. “She was so close to death. She was wagging her tail and crying at the same time.”

Given the dog’s location, it was clear she didn’t end up there on her own — and Foster knew it was up to him to get her out.

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PlayforStrays

“I knew that if we pulled up our anchor and left, it would mean her certain death,” Foster said. “She was not just a stray dog. She was sailed out and left there.”

Foster gave Negrita some food and took her into the boat to get her ready for the next wave of the trip. Although she was so thin and beaten up, she looked relieved.

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Negrita resting on the boat | PlayforStrays

Negrita and her rescuers sailed to the nearest city to search for a vet, and they were luckily able to find one who could provide a bit of help.

She was treated for her fleas and ticks and had her wounds cleaned. Luckily, she wasn’t suffering from any broken bones or major muscular trauma.

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PlayforStrays

Although Negrita was still quite weak, her sweet and gentle personality shone through more and more each day as she gained back her strength. She followed Foster around the boat constantly, and was always wagging her tail at him. After about four days of caring for her, Foster had made up his mind: He was going to bring Negrita home to the UK.

At home, Foster operates PlayforStrays, a charity that brings donated toys to abandoned shelter pets across the world. He had recently traveled to Natureza em Forma, a shelter in São Paulo, Brazil, to deliver toys — and had a feeling they might be able to now help him.

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Foster and Negrita on the boat | PlayforStrays

He connected with a generous woman there named Tamis, who right away agreed to foster Negrita as she continued to gain weight and get healthier.

Hundreds of PlayforStrays supporters began sending donations for Negrita’s care and her eventual plane ticket home.

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Negrita eating at the vet | PlayforStrays

Another Brazilian animal rescue group, Canto da Terra, also pitched in and donated all the food Negrita would need at her new foster home.

“People from the states, Australia and all over the world were donating toward getting her home,” Foster said. “Negrita was so special, and I think that everybody recognized that. They fully rallied around us.”

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Negrita on the boat | PlayforStrays

Knowing Negrita was safe and doing well in her temporary home, Foster headed back to Northern Ireland, expecting his new family member to be soon behind in a few weeks. The strict regulations on flying animals internationally, however, created a roadblock.

“What was a few weeks turned into five months,” Foster said. “She needed multiple medical tests, both to leave Brazil but also gain entry to the UK.”

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Foster and Negrita | PlayforStrays

After many months of waiting, Negrita’s homecoming came at the end of March. After several long flights and pit stops, she was finally back with Foster again — who couldn’t have been more relieved to have his “Amazon girl” back.

While Negrita was naturally a bit scared during her transition, she’s since settled in wonderfully as a member of the family. Her toys have been a major help in making her feel comfortable, to her dad’s joy.

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Negrita with her favorite toy at home | PlayforStrays

“She loves her toys,” Foster said. “She has one little teddy bear I sent her at Christmas time who is like her baby. She carries it gently and looks after it very well. It’s the only one she won’t destroy.”

Negrita is learning new things every day — and is now almost unrecognizable from the starving, helpless dog who wandered into Foster’s path seven months ago.

Although Negrita’s former life is becoming a distant memory for her, Foster can’t help but think back on it every day.

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PlayforStrays

“I look at her most evenings, when everything’s quiet and she’s lying on her bed sleeping, and think back to how she was found,” Foster said. “The condition she was in was terrible. She has come so far — because of so many people who gave her a chance to live. I am humbled by them, and by her, every single day.”

To help bring joy to more dogs like Negrita, you can make a donation to PlayforStrays.