‘Canoe’ is sailing through recovery

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 16, 2003

Suffolk News-Herald

Canoe, a 2-year-old Chesapeake Bay Retriever, will celebrate Christmas with his usual tail-wagging good nature. That’s in spite of the fact that he’s just come through one of the most harrowing experiences a dog could ever survive.

The &uot;Chessie&uot; had his leg amputated Dec. 3 after he was ensnared in a bear trap and chewed half his leg off to free himself. No one actually saw it happen, but Christy Harrison, a Suffolk resident who serves as president of Chessie Rescue VA Inc., said that’s what vets and members of the non-profit organization who’ve seen the dog believe happened. Still, even after everything he’s been through; Canoe has a great spirit and lots of love to give.

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Canoe was found in a cemetery just outside Ahoskie, N.C., bleeding and with the bone protruding from what was left of his leg. He was turned over to Chessie Rescue VA, a non-profit organization, and 13 days later, Dec. 3, his leg was finally amputated so that he could begin a healing process.

&uot;The vet took the tube out yesterday and said he looks great,&uot; said Harrison. &uot;He’s wiggling around wagging his tail and he’s a happy boy today. When I first met Canoe, I thought what a sweet dog he was. My next thought was, poor thing, and I knew that I had to find help for him. What a great guy! To know him is to love him.&uot;

Harrison said all Canoe’s surgical and medical treatments have been paid for through on-line contributions on his behalf.

&uot;Always, when we’ve asked, the money has come in from Chessie lovers,&uot; she said. &uot;They are such special dogs, and they are not for everyone because they are more dominant and protective… a one family dog. But, if they are with the right family, they are a wonderful pet.&uot;

Canoe is scheduled to have his stitches removed on Christmas Eve at the office of people who have so generously taken care of his medical needs; Bennett’s Creek Veterinary Care. Canoe was also neutered at the same time his left rear leg was amputated.

&uot;They have been super and cut us a break with his surgery and care,&uot; Harrison added. &uot;It’s good to know a vet who is willing to help with something like this and one who is so close to us – only two miles away.&uot;

While Canoe is receiving his healing treatments, he has also helped Harrison’s family heal from the recent loss of their beloved pet, Shooter.

&uot;We went through a terribly tough time when we lost Shooter,&uot; she said. &uot;He was almost 10 years old and my daughter Megan is only 8 and she grew up with Shooter and loved him so much. During the week he was dying, the vet said he thinks from a bite from a brown recluse spider, Megan would go to lie down next to him and he would stop crying. If she got up to leave him, he would whimper again. Megan is the one who chose Canoe’s name.&uot;

Harrison describes Canoe as the &uot;sweetest boy,&uot; and an &uot;absolute doll&uot; when it comes to small children.

&uot;When he meets children, he leans into them for more pats, plopping on his back to expose his belly for a good rubbing,&uot; said Harrison &uot;He bonds quickly with his new people and cries when they leave. Even when the vet poked, and prodded, and medicated, and examined, and clipped his nails, and gave nasal bordetella, ear meds, all the while – not a peep outta’ this boy. Canoe is just sweet as they come.&uot;

Canoe was also heartworm positive, and he had a hook and round worm infestation, along with fleas and ear mites. He’s been treated for those problems also, with his heart of gold shinning through, said Harrison.

Harrison said rescuing dogs like Canoe is the sole mission of the volunteer rescue group that serves all of Virginia and northeastern North Carolina.

&uot;We get our CBRs in need from local shelters and owners surrendering their dogs for various reasons,&uot; she said. &uot;We do not have a shelter or kennel available to us so our rescues are fostered in our homes – with us, our kids, our pets, etc. We foster the dog usually for eight weeks before placing them up for adoption. We try to learn as much as we can about the animal so we can make the best possible placement. All of our dogs are evaluated for health and temperament. They are brought up to date on all their shots, treated for any health issues, started on heartworm preventative and flea/tick control, and spayed or neutered before placing them.&uot;

People desiring to adopt one of these special animals are required to fill out an adoption application, or apply via phone or e-mail. A time is then set up for a volunteer to visit the home and family. This visit helps determine if the breed is right for the family and if so, to make the best possible match when placing a dog in the home. After a successful home visit and the proper match is found, prospective &uot;parents&uot; will then need to sign an adoption contract.

Anyone who would like to learn more about Canoe, or any of the other Chesapeake Bay Retrievers, has two Web sites from which to choose. Those who would like to adopt one of the animals should visit www.chessierescueVA.org. On the site is a link to sponsor Canoe or one of the other retrievers. Harrison may be reached at 484-6507, or contact the rescuers at ChessieRescueVA@aol.com.