Donna Lochmann wasn’t planning on picking up any stray dogs when she got in her Jeep one February morning. The experienced rescuer is usually prepared for an unexpected rescue, but this time, she was going straight to an emergency call.
Her coworker Natalie Thompson jumped into the passenger seat to accompany Lochmann on the drive. But as she stared out the window, Thompson spotted someone small and brown hanging out on a side street.
“Just down one of the side streets, Natalie noticed a dog,” Lochmann, Stray Rescue of St. Louis’ chief life saving officer, told The Dodo.
Lochmann didn’t want to leave the dog alone, but she knew the rescue would take some time, and they had a dog with a medical emergency waiting for them. So, she decided to pick up the first dog, then stop by to check on the little dog after.
“After we got the first dog, we went back down the street where we’d found her earlier, but we didn’t see her anywhere,” Lochmann said. “And then we noticed her in an alleyway.”
Lochmann watched as the dog walked down the side of the alley. The rescuer tried to follow her but quickly lost sight of the dog. She walked to the end of the alleyway, where she found an abandoned multi-floor building and a small field next to it.
“I didn’t see her walking in the field, so I just kind of assumed that she went into the building,” Lochmann said.
Lochmann entered the building through the first floor and made her way across the junk-scattered room. In the corner, she found a dilapidated staircase that led to the floor above.
“There wasn’t a lot on the second floor,” Lochmann said. “But there was a blanket towards the middle, and I saw her lying there.”
Lochmann made eye contact with the dog, who seemed really young. She reached for one of her most dependable rescue tools, a slip lead, but quickly realized she didn’t have it.
“I only had one slip lead with me, and it was on the dog in the Jeep,” Lochmann said.
The rescuer ran back to her car to get the slip lead, but when she came back, the dog was nowhere to be found.
“Turns out there was a door on the second floor that led outside to the back part of the building,” Lochmann said. “I didn’t realize at first that you could get out that way, but she did.”
Lochmann continued searching for the dog around the outskirts of the building and eventually found her sitting in an open field. The rescuer wasn’t sure what personality the dog might have, so she approached the pup as carefully as possible.
“She wasn’t coming up to me and I didn’t want her to freak out and take off,” Lochmann said. “So I just kind of knelt down and started tossing Vienna sausages close to her.”
The sausages got her attention. “She followed that trail of Vienna sausages and finally came up to me,” Lochmann said.
When Lochmann was finally able to put a leash around the dog, she noticed that she was a little skittish. Still, her reaction to being saved conveyed more happiness than fear.
“Some dogs are more afraid of getting into the Jeep and letting me pick them up, but she put her feet up on the back of the Jeep and let me lift her in,” Lochmann said. “I feel like she was probably ready to go.”
Lochmann brought the dog, whom she named Dodie, to the vet. Surprisingly, Dodie let the vet team completely check her over with no objections.
As the vet team examined Dodie over for any injuries, the relieved pup melted in their arms. The pup was overall healthy, besides being underweight. So, the vet team put her on a meal plan to help her recover. Then, they helped her find the perfect foster home.
Dodie’s been in foster care ever since, living her best life and waiting for the perfect forever family to find her.
Her friends at Stray Rescue miss having the pup’s sweet energy around the shelter, but they’re so glad that she gets to sleep on a cozy, warm bed instead of on a blanket in the middle of an abandoned building.