By Kirsten Mitchell

LAKELAND, Minn. (WCCO) – A Lakeland dog is being hailed a hero. The goldendoodle named Gus rescued a tiny baby otter in the St. Croix River. The Wildlife Rehabilitation Center in Roseville treated the pup and said he’s doing much better.

“He’s a very friendly, happy, goldendoodle,” Gus’ owner, Cleo Young, said.

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Despite the wags and kisses, it’s been a tough few years for 6-year-old Gus.

(credit: CBS)

Young said he had a tumor removed and during a routine follow up earlier this year, staff at the University of Minnesota found another, leading them to amputate his back leg.

“We thought, Oh this is going to be so sad, he isn’t going to be able to run again like he used to, but this hasn’t slowed him down at all,” Young said.

That was clear Easter Sunday when he jumped into the frigid St. Croix River. Young said her grandkids Ella and Lucy watched him from shore as they watch him swim far out, seemingly looking for something.

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He returned to shore with a tiny baby otter in his mouth and left it at the girls’ feet. Covered in sand, they washed him in the sink and rushed to the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center in Roseville.

“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 said.

(credit: CBS)

The team at WRC went right to work, nursing the cold pup back to health. They said if Gus hadn’t rescued him, he likely wouldn’t have survived.

Gus has three more chemotherapy sessions to go, but his battle for his life hasn’t stopped him, from saving another.

“It was definitely an Easter Sunday we will remember for a long time,” Ella Hammerstrand said.

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The Wildlife Rehabilitation Center says the baby otter is too young to be in the water and should have been in the den with his mother. He’s since been transferred to another rehabilitation center for more care.

Kirsten Mitchell