In spite of his hardships, Gus the Goldendoodle still gets around pretty well for a dog with only three legs.
The 6-year-old dog was diagnosed with cancer earlier this year. One of his hind legs needed to be amputated, and he’s currently undergoing several rounds of chemotherapy at the University of Minnesota Veterinary Hospital. Nevertheless, Gus still runs around and plays as if nothing is wrong.
“He’s very friendly, and he’s very smart, and he’s very loving,” said Gus’ owner, Cleo Young.
On Easter Sunday, Cleo’s granddaughters Ella and Lucy Hammerstrand were doing some chores in her St. Mary’s Point, Minnesota yard. The property abuts the St. Croix River, and while Gus used to love going for a swim, he hadn’t been into the water since losing his leg.
This Easter Sunday was chilly, so when the dog suddenly burst out of the yard and plunged into the river, no one was quite sure what to make of it. He swam about 50 feet into the river before returning to shore. That’s when his family saw the tiny brown ball of fur Gus was holding in his mouth.
It was a baby otter, so tiny its eyes weren’t even open yet. Lucy held the tiny animal in her arms as the family searched the river for a mother otter. When they came up empty-handed, Cleo bundled him into a towel and brought him to the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center in Roseville.
“The otter is much too young to be in the water — it should still be in the den with its mom,” the rehab center wrote on Facebook. “Having no idea where the den is, how far the little guy traveled, the otter has been admitted for rehabilitation.”
It was touch-and-go for the first 36 hours. Rescuers were concerned that the otter’s body temperature had plummeted too low, and if he’d breathed in water he could have pneumonia. But the otter turned out to be a fighter! Within a few days he was eating, drinking, and getting stronger by the hour.
“Kudos to Gus, and his wonderful owners Cleo and John, for saving this young otter’s life,” wrote the rehab center.
Gus’ family is still flabbergasted by his actions that day. They weren’t sure he could even swim with just three legs, but now that question has been answered! When push comes to shove, Gus can, and will, hustle to save a baby animal in need.
“I think he [Gus] knew the otter was hurting and something was wrong,” said Ella. “He definitely got a lot of treats afterwards.”
Otters usually stay with their mothers for a year, so this baby will be placed in a new rehabilitation center that has the right kinds of pools to care for him. As for Gus, he’s getting spoiled with lots of extra treats and cuddles, as a true hero should!
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