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A great life with Gus

  • Gus poses for close up photo with tongue hanging out

    A great life with Gus

    A dog undergoing cancer treatment jumps into the St. Croix to save a baby otter. Did we mention that Gus has only 3 legs? Amazing!

Our pets are loyal, loving and sometimes amazing. Consider the story of Gus, a Goldendoodle owned by John and Cleo Young of Lakeland, MN.

Back in 2020 Gus’ groomer noticed a growth on his side. It was a tumor—a malignant pilomatricoma, an uncommon type of skin tumor that develops from hair follicles. He underwent surgery to remove the tumor, and later a lymph node to which it had spread. Eventually the cancer spread to his tibia bone, near his knee joint. After surgery to remove his leg, Gus is now undergoing chemotherapy.

Gus standing in front of the St. Croix River.
Gus standing in front of the St. Croix River.

“Amputation and chemotherapy may seem extreme to some,” says Dr. Alana Kuzmik, an oncology resident at the Lewis Small Animal Hospital who treated the six-year-old canine. “But the surgery relieved a really painful situation for Gus. He demonstrates that dogs can thrive while undergoing comprehensive cancer treatment. Our team is thrilled to provide dogs like Gus an opportunity to spend more time with their families while having an excellent quality of life.”

With all that recent medical history, you would not expect Gus to do much more during his recovery than lay around the house, soak up the sunshine, and accept all the cuddles and pets that came his way. Not true for Gus.

In mid-April with the family gathered at their home along the St. Croix River, Gus amazed his family. Suddenly, this three-legged dog in the midst of chemotherapy treatments bounded into the ice-cold river for an unknown reason. Gus had spotted a baby otter in the river, swam out to retrieve it, and brought it to shore.

“Gus was such a freewheeling, active dog as he has lots of running space,” says Cleo. “We thought that might all end for him—nope!”

The week-old otter was taken to the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center in nearby Roseville and is expected to make a full recovery. As for Gus, it was just another day being the best dog he can be, and that is pretty amazing.

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