David Foster, the founder of PlaysforStrays, has long dedicated his time away from his job to bring better living conditions to animals in shelters. But even Foster's experience working with stray and abandoned animals didn't prepare him for what he found during a trip he took while on vacation, or how much the meeting would change his life.
Through PlaysforStrays, Foster collects dog toys, many sent to him by his supporters, to deliver to the canines he visits in the various shelters during his travels around the world. But after years of working his job and running PlaysforStrays, Foster decided to book a once in a lifetime trip to the Amazon. It was on this trip that he made an amazing find.
After traveling through rainforests and jungles, Foster chose to take a boat over to a nearby deserted island. “When we stopped at this random island, the plan was to go swimming and snorkeling, then have a lunch, idyllic really. Whilst on the boat, in the distance, I could see what I thought was some jagged bogwood. As I grabbed my binoculars to take a closer look, I could tell immediately that it was a dog," Foster said.
One of the men Foster was traveling with had a drone, and he directed it to the island to confirm that there were no communities around. The dog on the island had been there by itself for a long, long time. Foster explained, “This really was the middle of the Jungle. It took us two hours to get to this point from a very small community and we had another two hours to get to the next town.”
They sailed the boat closer to the island, where some of the people in the party decided to do some snorkeling. The dog saw the boat and made a desperate dash to swim out to it. As the dog neared, Foster saw the condition she was in, and his heart broke. "It was a pitiful sight and I’m surprised she had the energy to swim and run so far. On reaching me she cried, and I’ve no shame in admitting that I almost did too. Such a pitiful sight,” he recounted.
Foster named the black dog Negrita, and her condition proved that she was only a few days away from death. She could barely walk to Foster; she was emaciated and covered in ticks and fleas. Negrita also showed signs of abuse as her ears were cut and sliced. The dog was so close to death that vultures had taken to circling her overhead.
At that point, Foster made a decision. “No way could I leave her here to fend for herself, no way," he stated. He convinced the boat owner to allow Negrita on the boat, as Foster hoped to be able to find a vet in the next town over. However, there was no suitable vet there, so he was determined to keep Negrita with him.
There was a scary moment when Negrita slipped out of the rope used to tie her to the boat after they had docked. Foster got up to look for her the next morning only to find that the boat was already moving to its next destination! Foster begged and pleaded with the operator to return to the shore for the dog, and finally the captain reluctantly agreed. Foster returned to the docks, whistled once, and Negrita appeared and jumped into the boat with him.
Foster decided to find a way to bring Negrita home with him. He explained, “I have decided to get her to the UK. Dogs are not loved here like we do in the UK. My heart wouldn’t allow her to stay.” There were lots of hoops for Negrita to jump through before she would be allowed to travel through. When Foster got the dog to a knowledgeable veterinarian, a series of tests were run to determine if Negrita carried any dangerous diseases. Thankfully, she had negative results!
Now Negrita is staying in a foster home in Sao Paulo while Foster continues the process of raising funds and completing paperwork to bring Negrita home to live with him. Many of Foster's followers have supported his efforts through his Facebook page and raised money for Negrita as well.
No matter what, Foster will never rest until he is reunited with Negrita. He wants to bring his "Amazon Girl" home.
“Since my return many have asked me ‘why bother, there’s so many dogs here to save?’ My reply is that 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,” Foster said. “Negrita was beaten and left for dead in a place where she couldn’t survive, even if she tried. 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."
We hope that these two fated friends will see each other soon. Follow along with Foster and Negrita's progress via the PlaysforStrays Facebook page, then share their heartwarming quest with your family and friends on Facebook.