“She was emaciated, badly beaten and her ears were sliced. The vultures were following her every move”.
The 38-year-old David Foster took a trip to the Amazon to enjoy a jungle river cruise. However, when the boat docked for lunch at a remote island, David saw a poor sight.
“She threw herself into the water, swam across and then limped over to me. I saw what a desperate state she was in,” he said.
“There were vultures following her – that’s how close she was to death,” he added.
Despite the hardship the dog had gone through, she was wagging her tail wildly.
Mr. Foster and the boat owner checked for people nearby but didn’t find anyone.
“At that moment I said: ‘This dog cannot stay on this beach’.
“We think she was dumped there by fishermen,” he added.
Named Negrita by him, the dog became a part of the crew. Their first intention was to drop her at a rescue in São Paulo, but after seeing the countless animals in need in the city, Mr. Foster changed his mind.
“It just wasn’t an option, I couldn’t leave her there,” Mr. Foster told BBC News.
“I had to bring her home to Northern Ireland.”
Getting Negrita to Northern Ireland wasn’t a simple task, however.
“The government vet in the jungle I was in wouldn’t let her go, wouldn’t let her fly,” he said.
“I wouldn’t go as far as bribery but let’s just says there were people asking for money for help.
“It was a logistical nightmare.”
Still, two flights later, Mr. Foster got to São Paulo and managed to get some help there from some contacts of his.
“The lady who minded her was amazing and ended up having her for five months, until I got the rest of the paperwork sorted.” He said. Turns out that there was a lot of bureaucratic stuff to figure out before he could get Negrita to Northern Ireland.
Once the great trip was completed, the dog went through quite the cultural shock.
“When Negrita arrived home she was met with snow,” he said.
“She was frightened and scared having been on a long flight and now she’s in a cold country, she would never have experienced cold before.
“Her bodily condition has improved so much – though the slices in her ears are still there, showing me that it’s her.”
Negrita isn’t the first animal Mr. Foster has helped.
“I’ve always been into animal welfare and working with animals. At university I studied environmental science and became a safari guide for a few years,” he said.
“I will be travelling to China with a charity to collect dogs which would have been destined for the meat trade later in the year.
“I rescue animals myself on a small scale, just the odd one here and there.”