Donna Lochmann could hear a low growl as she bent down to look underneath an unoccupied van. After getting a call about a stray dog sleeping under cars in a residential St. Louis, Missouri, neighborhood, the experienced rescuer went straight over to look for him.
She checked a few cars first with no luck until she finally heard a familiar sound. The dog’s growl grew louder as she got closer to the ground, but Lochmann knew not to be intimidated.
“It’s not a mean thing,” Lochmann, who works for Stray Rescue of St. Louis as their chief life-saving officer, told The Dodo. “It’s just that they’re scared and that’s how they somewhat protect themselves.”
Soon, Lochmann was face to face with a white pit bull whose eyes were pleading for help. He was still growling, but she refused to leave him there alone.
She could tell by the dog’s weight that he hadn’t eaten in a long time, so Lochmann began throwing chunks of Vienna sausages under the car to ease his fears. As expected, the pup gobbled the sausages right up. But then he did something surprising — he started wagging his tail.
Slowly, Lochmann started to throw the sausages further out from the car. After enjoying a few delicious bites from the safety of his hiding place, the dog crept out from underneath the van and walked towards his rescuer. He was hesitant, but his tail continued wagging.
“All he wanted was to know we would help him,” Stray Rescue of St. Louis wrote in a Facebook post.
Finally, the pup, whom Lochmann named Avalanche, got close enough to let her put a leash on him.
His wagging tail told Lochmann that he was happy to be saved, but he refused to follow her to her Jeep on his own. So the rescuer grabbed another handful of Vienna sausages and created a trail from Avalanche’s van to her Jeep.
“He just followed that little trail of sausages,” Lochmann said. “And then he let me pick up and put him in the Jeep.”
Lochmann drove Avalanche straight to the vet, where he was given a full medical assessment and a much-needed bath.
Avalanche was dangerously skinny and his hips were covered in deep sores from sitting on concrete for so long. To help, the veterinary team prescribed Avalanche some antibiotics and put him on a re-feeding schedule so that he could start gaining weight at a healthy pace.
Avalanche only spent a few days at the veterinary clinic before finding a loving foster family to take him in. His caregivers at the clinic had fallen in love with him and were sad to see him go, but they were so happy that Avalanche would get to spend Christmas in a warm home instead of alone on the streets.
Since going into foster care, Avalanche’s health has improved and his personality has blossomed. When he’s not curled up alongside his adoring foster mom, he can usually be found spending time with his foster dog siblings.
“He’s doing really well and getting along with everybody,” Lochmann said. “He’s enjoying where he is.”
Although Avalanche still has a long road of recovery ahead, Lochmann can already see a change in the sweet pup.
“You can just see the difference in his eyes,” Lochmann said. “There’s more life to his eyes now than when we first got him. He doesn’t have that defeated look anymore.”