A three-legged 6-year-old golden retriever and poodle mix named Gus spent Easter Sunday saving an orphaned baby otter floating on its own in freezing water after it got separated from its mother.
Gus’ owner’s grandchildren, Ella and Lucy Hammerstrand, said they were accompanying Gus to a family gathering along the St. Croix River in St. Mary’s Point, Minnesota when the incident took place.
The family was a bit confused why Gus went into the freezing water and swam out roughly 50 feet, which is something he has never done before.
The family called on Gus to come back and when he did swim back to shore, they were shocked to see an extremely small otter pup in his mouth.
“I think he [Gus] knew the otter was hurting and something was wrong… he definitely got a lot of treats afterwards,” Ella Hammerstrand told FOX 9.
The Hammerstrands wrapped the cold animal in their clothing to warm it up while they looked around trying to find the mother. However, she was nowhere to be found and after searching for a while, they decided the best thing to do was take it to the nearby Wildlife Rehabilitation Center in Roseville.
“I held him for a little while they tried to find his mom, but we couldn’t,” Lucy Hammerstrand said.
Fortunately, the staff at the center was able to confirm that the otter pup was only a week old, which is way too young to be swimming on its own. They said otters typically stay with their mother for at least a year before going off on their own.
“The otter is much too young to be in the water – it should still be in the den with its mom,” the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center wrote on Facebook. “Having no idea where the den is, how far the little guy traveled, the otter has been admitted for rehabilitation. 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. The otter turned the corner the other day and is doing well.”
After receiving care at the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center in Roseville, it was transported to another rehabilitation center that carried the specific tools and equipment to properly take care of a baby otter.
The family said that Gus was diagnosed with cancer after going to the groomers and finding out that he had a tumor growing on one of his bones.
In order to save his life, doctors had to amputate his back right leg in February. However, even with the amputated leg, according to the family, it has not slowed him down.
“He does just great on three legs,” Cleo Young, his owner, told FOX 9. “He runs as fast as he ever did.”