Rescuer Saves Starving Mountain Dog By Playing Opossum
By Laura Simpson
Amanda Guarascio and Dylan Parkinson of Lost and Found Pets of Washington State took on one of their greatest rescue missions last month in a freezing cold, down-on-the-ground maneuver to earn the trust of a starving dog near the base of Mount Rainier in Washington.
It began when Amanda was tagged on a Facebook post about a skeletal dog who’d been seen by many hikers. Some off-road vehicle operators in the forest had been tossing the dog bits of food, but it was clear that the animal was eating very little and had been lost in those woods for a long time. With bitter cold overnight temperatures and no shelter, something had to be done. Amanda and Dylan decided to try.
When they arrived in the area, they found the dog fairly quickly. And although the dog quickly swiped a few of the hot dogs offered by hand, his fear was too strong. The first day of the rescue mission ended in disappointment. So on day two, the women decided to take a new approach. Amanda needed to be as non-threatening as possible so that the dog could get up the courage to be near, so she decided to try playing opossum. She turned her back to the dog and laid down in a fetal position, and within minutes, the dog began to sniff her with a low growl.
“I laid in the road for about 20 minutes before he lost interest and wandered off,” Amanda explained. “I got back into the truck to get warm, and we waited until he went back to a grassy spot on the side of the road. Dylan dropped me off and drove away. It was cold. So cold! Cold enough that it started snowing. Once she drove away, I got down on the ground with my back to the pup, who we decided to call Baby Bear, and slowly started crawling backwards towards where he was laying.”
Dylan stood guard and warned cars coming down the road to be careful as Amanda lay curled up in a ball, slowly inching toward Baby Bear.
“Finally, I got right up next to Bear. He growled a little bit, so I started whimpering and yawning, which is a calming signal, and continued to slowly get closer and closer until I was rested up against the sweet little Baby Bear… His shivering slowed down, and he even backed up against me for more warmth. I made sure not to try to grab him at any point because I didn't want to lose his trust.”
Two hours later, Amanda finally had what she’d come for.
“The slip lead part got interesting, as I was so tired and it was really dark so I couldn't see what I was doing. I ended up resting the slip lead on his snout, and accidentally put my fingers in his mouth and nose. He wasn't amused, but he allowed it!”
The moment he was leashed, Baby Bear no longer wanted to walk. Exhausted, he let Amanda carry him to the truck and then inside the veterinary clinic when they arrived in town.
After an unsuccessful effort to locate Baby Bear’s family, he was adopted out through the Useless Bay Sanctuary. Their most recent report of the now-healthy and happy Baby Bear includes a funny quip about his choice of “perfume.”
“Guess who rolled in duck poo on his morning walk?” his adopter said. “He was so pleased with himself you just couldn't be mad. He did take the hose-off in the drive way (with warm water) like a trooper! And since he had such a hard morning, he’s been napping all day. I sure have a lot of pictures of him sleeping…but hey, at that ridiculous level of cuteness, how can you resist?”
See the Facebook page created by Baby Bear’s new family.