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Three-Legged Dog Fighting Cancer Rescues Baby Otter From River

Written by: Molly Weinfurter
Molly Weinfurter is a writer for iHeartDogs, and she’s passionate about helping animals in need. She volunteers for Bailing Out Benji and a local dog rescue.Read more
| Published on April 26, 2022

Gus the Goldendoodle recently had his leg amputated after being diagnosed with cancer. Without his back leg, he can still run and play like he used to, but many everyday things have been an adjustment. His family wasn’t sure if he’d be able to swim again, but Gus didn’t want to wait to find out.

On Easter Day, Gus randomly jumped into the St. Croix River in Minnesota. When he returned to the shore, he had a tiny otter with him. Despite facing life-threatening struggles of his own, Gus had gone out of his way to save another animal’s life!

Dog missing leg

Gus’ Cancer Battle

Gus had a tumor removed earlier in the year, but vets discovered a second one shortly after. The 6-year-old dog was diagnosed with cancer and had to have one of his back legs amputated. He’s currently going through chemotherapy treatments at the University of Minnesota Veterinary Hospital.

Cleo Young worried that her dog wouldn’t be able to run again, but Gus quickly proved her wrong. On Easter, Young and her two daughters witnessed Gus swim for the first time since his leg amputation. He entered the river with a sense of determination. When Gus returned to the shore, his humans were shocked by what he found.

Baby otter close-up

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

The family had no idea how to care for a baby otter. So, they rinsed him off, wrapped him in a towel, and rushed him to the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center (WRC). They just barely made it before they closed.

Vet holding baby otter

Baby Otter Survives!

WRC staff suspect that the otter is only a week old, which is way too young to be alone in the water. Most otters stay in a comfortable den with their mother for the first year of their life. Yet, no one knows where the otter’s mom is, so wildlife specialists will rehabilitate the otter pup.

If Gus hadn’t rushed to save this tiny otter, the critter probably wouldn’t have survived. At first, the otter was cold to the touch, so rescuers didn’t know if he’d make it. WRC transferred the otter to a different facility so he could receive the best care possible, and he’s doing well now.

Three-legged Goldendoodle

UPDATE: Baby Squirrel Claims Motherly Pit Bull As Her Own

“I think [Gus] knew the otter was hurting and something was wrong. He definitely got a lot of treats afterward,” Ella said.

Gus is a hero! Not only did he save a baby animal’s life, but he did so despite his many hardships. Gus isn’t out of the woods yet, but his family will continue to love and support him through his cancer treatment.

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