Three-legged dog saves life of orphaned otter in St. Croix River

A family dog that recently lost a leg to cancer braved the frigid river to bring a baby otter to safety.




2 minute read

A dog facing its own health challenges performed something of a miracle on Easter Sunday, when Gus the goldendoodle swam out into the freezing river and saved a baby river otter that was separated from its mother and suffering.

The dog recently had a rear leg amputated due to cancer, but that didn’t stop it from bringing the otter pup back to shore. The dog’s family said it seemed like he was looking for something while in the water.

“First time swimming with three legs and he comes out of the water with a baby otter in his mouth!” said Ella.

“I held him for a little while they tried to find his mom, but we couldn’t,” said Lucy.

They wrapped up the pup and rushed to the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center of Minnesota in Roseville.

“He was so cute. His eyes weren’t even open yet…you could just see his little fingernails and his little tail. He almost like curled into a little ball,” said Ella.

Dog fighting cancer rescues orphan otter pup from St. Croix River, FOX 9

Veterinarians at the rehab center were able to nurse it back to health.

“Go ahead and swoon, we did,” they wrote on Instagram.

The staff estimated the otter was about a week old, much too young to be swimming alone. Otter pups usually stay with their moms for the whole first year of their lives.

“We were quite concerned the first 36 hours – he was cold to the touch at admit and we didn’t know if he’d aspirated water, which could result in pneumonia,” WRC posted on Facebook. “The otter turned the corner the other day and is doing well.”

Gus the rescue dog is still receiving chemotherapy for the cancer that resulted in his leg amputation in February. But it didn’t stop him from doing a good deed for another creature.

“I think he (Gus) knew the otter was hurting and something was wrong…he definitely got a lot of treats afterwards,” said Ella Hammerstrand, granddaughter of Gus’s owners, John and Cleo Young.

The otter has since been transferred to another facility better suited to raising the pup.


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2 responses to “Three-legged dog saves life of orphaned otter in St. Croix River”

  1. Donna Avatar

    Is there a go fund me site for Gus?

  2. Mark Hove Avatar
    Mark Hove

    Neat story!