Gus the 3-Legged Goldendoodle Jumps into Freezing River to Save Life of Baby Otter Who Was Swept Away

It must've been pretty surprising to see a three-legged goldendoodle jump into a freezing-cold river, but Gus was on a mission.

Gus the 3-Legged Goldendoodle Jumps into Freezing River to Save Life of Baby Otter
Photo: Guy Banville / Getty

A three-legged, cancer-battling goldendoodle wading into a freezing Minnesota river is usually cause for alarm, but Gus knew what he was doing.

The 6-year-old pup was outside with his owner's grandkids April 17 when he jumped into the St. Croix River on the border of Minnesota and Wisconsin, according to WCCO. He seemed to be looking for something—and he located his prize.

It was a tiny—too tiny, actually—baby river otter. Gus picked him up in his mouth and deposited him at the grandchildren's feet. After washing the otter in the sink, Gus's owner, Cleo Young, quickly ferried the youngling to the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center of Minnesota.

"It was kind of a harrowing trip because it was closing at 6 p.m., and we didn't know if we were going to make it," Young told WCCO.

They did make it! The river otter was way too young to be in the water, so Gus's intervention likely saved the pup's life, the WRC wrote on Facebook. He should've been in a land-based den with his mother. Staff members there were concerned about the little guy, who was very cold, for the first 36 hours, but he "turned the corner" and has been rehabilitating well since.

"It was definitely an Easter Sunday we will remember for a long time," Ella Hammerstrand, one of the grandkids, told WCCO.

Gus has gone through his own health challenges. He lost one of his back legs after veterinarians found two cancerous tumors there. He still has three chemotherapy sessions to complete, but he still sounds like the typical goldendoodle (in the best way).

"He's a very friendly, happy, goldendoodle," Young says.

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