Cold, hungry and alone, a scruffy stray canine roamed the UC Merced campus for two months, looking for shelter – and eluding those who wanted to help him.
He braved the freezing cold temperatures, dodged cars on the roadways and escaped coyotes and other predatory animals.
Now the pooch will enjoy a warm and safe holiday inside a no-kill rescue shelter thanks to a trio of concerned UC Merced staff members who launched an operation to save him.
“When I first saw him, he looked so lost and scared and didn’t belong out there,” said Cindy Olstad, an enrollment services advisor in the Students First Center. “We had seen him running down the bike lane on Lake Road. It was frightening to have him out there, and each day you’d see him, he dodged another bullet.”
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They named him LBD – short for Little Brown Dog – and caught him just after noon Wednesday, said Olstad. She was one of three Good Samaritans who organized the rescue effort along with Denice Sawatzky and Pamela Moody.
With help from a local veterinarian, the team put a sedative in the dog’s food and waited for it to take effect. “It made him pretty groggy and he was getting sleepy,” Olstad said. “So we put a little blanket out there and he eventually curled up on it.”
Four hours later, Sawatzky made her move and nabbed the dog.
News of LBD’s capture spread quickly, said UC Merced spokeswoman Brenda Ortiz. People on the second and third floors of Kolligian Library erupted into applause after seeing LBD placed inside a carrier.
Since October, staff, faculty members and students had been seeing the dog wandering near the bus transit circle and gravel lot near the Kolligian Library, Ortiz said. He was also seen trotting through the library and North Bowl parking lots, along Ranchers Road and as far south as the Early Childhood Education Center.
The little brown dog never let humans touch him, but he gained a legion of fans and became a social media sensation with two Facebook pages and a Twitter account.
After the UC Merced rescue, the wandering dog ended up at the Little Dinosaur Rescue in La Grange, where owner Helga Weiss said Friday that he’s doing great. “The first day he was a little shaky, hiding in the back of the crate,” Weiss said. “Now he’s wagging his tail and barking when we come into the room.”
Despite LBD’s scruffy appearance, which includes some burrs matted in his fur, Weiss said he seems to be in good health and already has more than 55 people who want to adopt him.
Messages on the organization’s Facebook page provide regular updates about LBD’s progress to the many people concerned about him.
And although his many supporters are anxious to see him find a permanent home, Weiss said she’s going to take her time training the pooch to become more socialized and not fear humans. “I would imagine that he was probably abused by his previous owner,” said Weiss, who is a dog trainer. “But once you start petting him slowly, he gets more comfortable and falls asleep in your lap. We’re taking baby steps.”
If the little brown dog doesn’t find a permanent home in the future, Weiss said, he will be kept safe and sound at her facility.
“The way we work is if the dog can’t be placed for whatever reason, they end up with a permanent residence with us,” Weiss said. “If he just can’t find a forever placement, he stays with us to finish his life out.”
It’s a happy ending for the pooch who became the most talked about campus critter since Rufus Bobcat.