Nearly two years ago, it was reported that a black Labrador had escaped from a vet’s office in Gardiner, New York. Several people tried to search for the dog around the area but failed to locate him until they gave up and thought that the dog would never survive the woods.
Meet Bandit the lost Labrador!
In October 2016, Bandit traveled 10 miles after escaping from an animal hospital and lived deep in the marshy woods near Walden, New York. The dog was so scared of people that he didn’t want to be seen and decided to live under the radar for over a year.
Although there were people who claimed to have seen Bandit around the area, nobody had really given a concrete information to where he settled.
Last month, someone spotted a dog standing by the road at the edge of the woods. When he realized he was a lost pup, he immediately contacted Nicole Asher of Buddha Dog Rescue and Recovery (BDRR).
Bandit was still wearing the collar his family gave him since he was a puppy.
“We went and set up a trap and surveillance camera in the woods immediately,” Asher said during an interview with The Dodo. “When I heard he was wearing a collar, I couldn’t wait to find out who he really was and where he came from. I was hopeful we could reunite him with his family.”
The volunteers carefully observed Bandit for several days on the surveillance camera and visit him frequently to bring the lost labrador more food. After a few days of no luck with the trap, Asher, who specializes in capturing lost dogs, set up a large fenced enclosure with treats inside that would hopefully lure the lost dog in.
“He was very skittish, so everything new we’d introduce to his area would spook him,” Asher said. But after five days of getting used to having the enclosure there, Bandit finally started crossing over the doorway to the enclosure little by little — and it was clear he had a playful side.
“Watching his antics on the video were a constant source of amusement,” Asher said. “He would chase the critters away from his enclosure, play with toys that we left for him and play bow and do his little playful dance in front of the enclosure.”
Sometimes, a fox or raccoon would sniff out some of his food — but the adorable labrador knew just how to take care of them.
“He’d stand there barking with his chest puffed out and tail high,” Asher said. “He was always so proud that he chased them off. You could tell he was such a character.”
By the end of March, just when Asher thought the dog would never fully enter the cage, he finally gained enough courage to hop inside. The rescuer immediately went to the site. Asher was elated to finally meet Bandit in person and called the number on his name tag right away — but his family didn’t have good news.
“Their lifestyle had changed and they just couldn’t take him,” Asher said. “They surrendered him to us right away. Apparently, this wasn’t the first time he’d ran away for a long period of time, either.”
Fortunately, the kind people at Ramapo-Bergen Animal Refuge offered to foster Bandit and get him all the medical help he needed.Luckily, the lost labrador wasn’t very skinny since he settled in an area where hunters often dropped off unwanted deer carcasses — but he was definitely scared.
“Living out in the woods he was always on the lookout,” Asher said. “If so much as a twig snapped, he knew it. He’s spent half his life fending for himself, so it’s going to take a lot of time to get him used to being in a home again.”
According to the doctors, Bandit is generally healthy. The people around him will also do their best to make sure the dog will get his confidence back.
Aside from needing treatment for two tick-borne illnesses, the sweet black Labrador is in good health — so for now, the rescue will be working with him daily to get him more used to being around people.
“When we first got him to the rescue he was so exhausted,” Asher said. “His eyes started closing and he just fell asleep.”
“You can tell that he is a silly, lovable boy on the inside,” Asher said. “His story is amazing and I think he’s given a ton of people hope who have lost dogs out there. They’re very resilient and smarter than we give them credit for.”
Anybody who is interested in adopting Bandit, you can get in touch with Bergen Animal Refuge website.
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SOURCE: The Dodo