8 min read

Stray Dog Carried Around The Tiniest Bit Of Bread So She Wouldn’t Be Hungry

“She’s an absolute doll, and we want to find her the best home.”

The golden retriever had been living on the streets for weeks, and she was hungry. The only food she could find was a small piece of bread, so she carried it in her mouth until she found a safe place to eat.

In March, a dog lover named Ayberk Ayar snapped a photo of the golden retriever while he was in the Central Anatolia region of Turkey. When Ayar asked some locals about the dog, they said that someone had recently dumped her, and she’d been wandering around the area for about two weeks.

Stray golden retriever holding piece of bread in mouth
Instagram/Ayberk Ayar

More than 6,000 miles away, Tracy Behnke, the intake director for Rescuers Without Borders, an organization that rescues and relocates dogs from Turkey, saw the photo on Ayar’s Instagram page.

“We knew that she would end up starving or getting hurt really bad,” Behnke told The Dodo. “Golden retrievers just can’t fight as well as the other bigger dogs. I was just taken with her, and I thought, ‘We need to do something for her.’”

The Rescuers Without Borders team asked a few volunteers to find the golden retriever and pull her from the streets. But when they arrived at the village where she was last spotted, the dog had disappeared.

“They went around looking for her, and people were saying that there was a man who had a golden and was driving around, trying to sell her,” Behnke said.

Woman holding rescued dog in her arms
Rescuers Without Borders

When they heard this, the volunteers feared the worst — they figured the man was trying to sell her for breeding purposes. “He probably drove around with her, asking people if they wanted to buy her for breeding, and then took her home with him,” Behnke said.

The volunteers didn’t stop searching, and their persistence eventually paid off. “With the help of other villagers, they were able to locate her in kind of a run-down shed,” Behnke said. “It was dark and there were no windows, and she had no food or water.”

After getting her out of the shed, a volunteer picked up the golden retriever, now named Harper, and cradled her in her arms. Ayar captured the moment on video.

“In the video, she’s saying in Turkish, ‘You’re safe, you’re safe now. No bad man,’” Behnke said.

Harper seemed to realize that she’d been rescued, and she immediately relaxed in her rescuers’ car.

Rescued golden retriever relaxing in car
Harper relaxing in the car immediately after being rescued | Rescuers Without Borders

“They said she was so sweet,” Behnke said. “She was giving kisses, which is kind of unusual for a Turkish dog. I think she definitely knew she was going to safety again.”

Woman hugging rescued golden retriever
Rescuers Without Borders

Harper went into foster care in Turkey while the Rescuers Without Borders team figured out how to transport Harper to the U.S. “It happened really fast,” Behnke said. As soon as Harper had gotten her medical checks and papers, she was put on a flight to San Francisco.

Golden retriever inside transport kennel
Harper being transported to the U.S. | Rescuers Without Borders

This past weekend, Behnke and her husband traveled from their home in Salem, Oregon, to meet Harper at the airport, and they both immediately fell in love with her.

“She’s a sweetheart,” Behnke said. “Everyone who has met her so far is in awe of how sweet a dog can be coming from that situation.”

Golden retriever sitting on floor of airport
Rescuers Without Borders

But it was clear that Harper had been living on the streets — she’s very timid, Behnke explained, and hesitant to accept food.

"We offer her food, and she almost looks like she’s not sure if she can,” Behnke said. “My husband actually ended up hand-feeding her to get her to eat. It was just like she was thinking, ‘I don’t want to get in trouble.’”

Man feeding dog in parking lot
Behnke's husband offering Harper some food | Rescuers Without Borders

Harper also tries to stay awake when she’s exhausted, which is probably what she had to do while she lived on the streets. “She kind of slept or dozed with her head up, and then finally would fall down,” Behnke said. “She’d nap for maybe 15 minutes, and then she was back up and watching.”

Dog sleeping in back of car
Rescuers Without Borders

Harper is now with a foster family in Washington state, and she’s slowly adjusting to her new life. She’s especially fond of playing outside in the grass, according to Behnke.

Golden retriever running around in the grass
Harper running around in the grass | Rescuers Without Borders

“She came out of her shell and was like, ‘Oh my gosh, this is great,’” Behnke said. “She was playing and running like it was the most amazing thing.”

Golden retriever lying in grass
Rescuers Without Borders

Harper will spend several more weeks at her foster home, but she’s on the market for a forever family — and Behnke and the Rescuers Without Borders team will do everything they can to find her one.

“She’s an absolute doll, and we want to find her the best home,” Behnke said.

If you’re interested in adopting Harper, you can contact Rescuers Without Borders.