Many people love helping and rescuing stray animals, but for David Foster is more than this. His love for animals has turned into a big passion. David is from UK, but he travel all around the world because of his job.
In an interview given to iHeartDogs David said:
“All this travelling is boring, so I would go to local animal shelters wherever I may be and give a few toys or balls for their animals.”
David’s family and friends supported his idea and they started giving him toys to give to shelters wherever he went. His hobby and passion soon grew into his biggest project – Play for Strays, through which he receives donations of toys from his followers and then delivers these toys to animal shelters all around the world.
Tired from working, David decided to take a break and go on holiday. His plan was to visit distant parts of the Amazon rainforests, but what he didn’t know at that time was that this would turn into a “trip of a lifetime.”
“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. At this time Hugo, the boat owner, was playing with his new toy, a drone, and I told him a dog was there. He originally dismissed it as a dog from a local community or a farm and kept the drone hovering over the guys snorkeling.”
Being in the middle of nowhere, David knew that the dog couldn’t have come from any nearby communities. To make sure, the owner of the boat flew his drone higher to check for any nearby communities but there were none.
“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.”
“As the guys who were snorkeling came back on the rowboat Negrita plunged into the water, so I leapt off the boat and ran down to the beach where she came towards me. 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.”
Watch the moment when David met Negrita, the dog, here:
The minute Negrita saw David, she immediately swam towards him. When they met, David noticed the bad health conditions Negrita was in. It was almost 100°F that day which seemed to have worsen Negrita’s health. She was extremely thin and covered in fleas and ticks. Her ears were cut and sliced from the abuse she had suffered. Even vultures had noticed the bad condition Negrita was in because they were flying around her, waiting for her to die.
“No way colud I leave her here to fend for herself, no way.”
David took Negrita on the boat and started feeding her together with another member of the expedition. He planned to take her along to the next town, Nhamunda, where she could receive proper veterinary care. Later he found out that there is no suitable vet in that town, so Negrita had to stay with them until they find medical care.
“We docked at Nhamundá for dinner and I checked her below decks every 20 minutes or so. Then on one check she was gone, I had a moment of panic but she was right there on the beach. I jumped off the boat, gave a whistle and she came straight back. I tied her extra tight to the bemusement of the local fishermen who think I’m crazy.”
“As I went to bed, and ready to have a final check, she was gone again! Rope still attached, but she was gone. It was pitch black now and I had no way of finding her. So I set my alarm to go off before sunrise to go look for her.”
“Unbeknown to me the boat starts and leaves even earlier. I leapt out of my bunk to see the shore disappear into the distance.”
David was very angry and wanted to go back and look for Negrita. He convinced the owner of the boat to turn back after offering to pay the cost of the fuel for the trip back. When they made it back, David was surprised when he saw Negrita patiently waiting at the exact spot where the boat had been docked.
“One quick whistle and she was in the boat, I didn’t even have to get out!”
They continued the journey towards the next town, Oriximinia. David bought everything he needed to take care of Negrita. He bathed her with medicated shampoo and parasite drops and picked off all the ticks he could.
“We are still days away from a proper vet clinic in Santarém at this point. She seems a lot happier at this point but still very itchy and unwell.”
David was determined to give all the necessary care and attention to Negrita. He felt lucky to have saved her life and wouldn’t never let her feel lonely again.
“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.”
Only when they reached the town of Santarem Negrita was able to see a veterinarian, who told David that they had to run some tests to find out if she carried any dangerous diseases.
“Her tests included canine leishmaniasis and cinomosis… I was warned that if she tested positive for leishmaniasis they would destroy her without hesitation.”
After waiting for what David calls as “The longest 24 hours of my life!” Negrita’s test results came back negative.
David was reliefed and he didn’t think twice when he cancelled a second expedition through the Amazon for Negrita’s sake. Thanks to his work with Play For Strays, he was able to find a good foster for her in Sao Paulo who would take care of her ’till he makes all the arrangements to take her with him. Followers of his page have been very supportive, helping him raise funds 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,” David says. “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.”
You can follow David and Negrita’s story at Play for Strays’ Facebook page, or help David bring Negrita home to the UK at GoFundMe.
According to Facebook, David can finally take Negrita home in the UK! We all wish her a safe trip to her new home, hoping that her life will be as beautiful as she looks in the picture down below!