Little Brown Dog Gets a Home for the Holidays

The saga of LBD – the scrappy, stray canine who roamed the UC Merced campus for two months while eluding the many Good Samaritans concerned for his wellbeing — came to a happy conclusion Wednesday after he was safely captured.

LBD – short for Little Brown Dog — was caught  just after 12 p.m., said Cindy Olstad, an enrollment services advisor in the Students First Center. Olstad was one of a trio of UC Merced staff members who organized an effort called Team Dognap to rescue LBD.

Olstad, Denice Sawatzky and Pamela Moody, were going to wait until the campus winter break to launch their plan to rescue LBD. But after growing increasingly concerned about his safety, they decided to take action sooner.

With help from a local veterinarian, Olstad got a sedative to put into LBD’s food. Sawatzky, who had been leaving food for the dog in one of the gravel lots he frequented, fed him the spiked grub early Wednesday morning and then waited nearby for the sedative to take effect. Four hours later, after she successfully coaxed the dog onto a blanket, Sawatzky made her move and nabbed him.

News of LBD’s capture spread quickly. People on the second and third floors of Kolligian Library erupted into applause after seeing LBD placed inside a carrier. Well-wishers and passersby offered congratulations and shouted “Way to go!” 

Since first being spotted on campus back in October, LBD has captured the hearts of the campus community. He had legions of people looking out for him and in the past week, not one but two Facebook pages ­– Lil’ Brown Dog and LBD Merced – and a Twitter account were launched in his name.

Pegged by observers to be a mixed terrier less than a year old, staff and faculty members and students regularly spotted the dog wandering near the bus transit circle and gravel lot on the north side of Kolligian Library, trotting through the Library and North Bowl parking lots, along Ranchers Road and as far south as the Early Childhood Education Center.

He never let any humans touch him, although he had gotten as close as a foot to Sawatzky, who works in UC Merced Library as an interlibrary services coordinator. Despite LBD’s scruffy appearance, he otherwise seemed to be in decent health.

“To be out in the elements for as long as he has, he looks fairly healthy,” Sawatzky said.

LBD is now on his way to Little Dinosaur Rescue, a no-kill facility in La Grange. A message on the organization’s Facebook page announced LBD’s rescue and thanked the many people concerned about him.

“Now starts the rehabilitation and a change to his life forever,” read the post. “We are so grateful for the determination of all the people who pitched in and devoted time to help this poor dog get out of the cold. What an amazing group of people!”

Moody said Little Dinosaur staff plans to post updates about LBD progress. However, LBD won’t be ready for adoption anytime soon.  

“There are several people who’ve said they want him, but he needs a lot of work,” Sawatzky said. “He’s not a dog you can just take home. He needs a lot of socialization, so he’ll need someone who knows what he or she is doing.”

As for the pooch who became the most talked about campus critter since Rufus Bobcat and the bunnies, the holidays – and his future – are now a bit brighter.

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