Carter, an American mastiff, will soon be going on a diet.
Karen Brandon, the owner of the 250-pound dog, says she'll do it just as soon as he recovers from a Monday slip into a neighborhood pond - an incident that required his rescue with the help of a lawn tractor and county animal care and control workers.
"I just knew we had to do something to get Carter out of the water," Brandon said about how she reacted when a neighbor found Carter stuck near the edge of the neighborhood pond, up to his neck in water.
Brandon said she suspects the 3-year-old mastiff and her other dog, Lucy, a Labrador retriever and pit bull terrier mix, pushed open the gate of their Northwood subdivision home. The padlock to the gate had apparently not been put back after some yard work, Brandon said.
Brandon said Carter might have bent down to get a drink of water when he slipped into the water and stayed tangled in the pond's underbrush for what she estimated was between four and six hours. Brandon and her 19-year-old son, J.D., were searching for the dogs when neighbor Bonnie Cox found Carter stuck in the pond.
"We brought over everything we could think of to pull him out of the water," Brandon said of the task that eventually involved the use of a lawn tractor.
Once Carter was finally out of the water along the bank, Brandon realized there was another problem: Carter couldn't stand from what Brandon feared was a back, leg or hip injury.
Carter also was too heavy for his owner to pick him up to move him to a vehicle so he could be taken to a veterinarian.
Brandon called police, but the county's animal care and control office had already closed for the day. So Carter spent the night on the bank - with Brandon bringing him water, food and pain medication.
"He had just worked so hard to try to get out," Brandon said, adding that Carter is normally a couch potato who likes to relax in his dog house.
On Tuesday morning, Brandon called Columbia County Animal Care and Control for help loading Carter into her pickup for a trip to the vet.
Animal Care and Control Manager Linda Fulmer and five employees responded, and it took all six to lift Carter onto a large board, carrying Carter up a hill and gently placing him in the bed of Brandon's truck.
Fulmer said it was an unusual call.
"Thank goodness (they are not common calls)," she said. "... If it is a situation where somebody just can't pick up their own dog or something, we try to help them with that. We run into it more with, like, elderly people."
Brandon arrived with Carter at Care More Animal Hospital by 1:30 p.m., where Dr. Edward Gross examined the dog and administered intravenous fluids to Carter in his office's parking lot.
"Most of it appeared to be exhaustion," Gross said, adding that Carter suffered from no injuries other than very sore strained muscles.
"It just takes a few days. It's no different than if we went through something like that. It is just going to take a few days."
Brandon said she was just happy to get Carter home and back to his inseparable buddy, Lucy.
"He's a sweet dog," Brandon said of Carter.
"We're extremely lucky there are a lot of nice people out there. I am very lucky."
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