Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Dogs rescued from river mud

They're now back home, thanks to dad, daughter

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A dad-and-daughter rescue team has saved a pair of desperate dogs mired in mud on the banks of the Assiniboine River in Charleswood.

Michael Kucheravy and daughter Caila, 20, saved a female golden retriever and male German shepherd after Kucheravy happened to go down to the river Tuesday morning to set free frogs found in his yard.

The dogs were stuck in the river-bottom sludge and in debris clogging the branches of a fallen tree that stretched out from the riverbank into the water.

"I had not gone down to the river once this year until this time, so it was kind of fate that I was there and I heard splashing," Michael said. "I thought it was ducks, but then I saw this golden retriever was in the water out by this tree. It's a big, quicksand-type mess, and this dog is in there."

'I can't imagine how these dogs got out there, but I knew someone would want them back'

— Michael Kucheravy

He called for Caila to come down from the house with some dog treats. That's when she spotted the German shepherd, unable to move with his feet stuck in the mud and up to his neck in about a metre of water.

Dad and daughter walked out on the downed tree, then crawled to reach the dogs.

"The riverbank is so flooded right now, we weren't sure where the drop-off was, so we had to walk out using the tree. At one point, my dad was actually right over top of the river," Caila said. "The shepherd was thrashing around a bit under the fallen tree."

Her dad was able to grab the golden retriever's collar and coax her out to Caila, but the shepherd was tough to budge.

"I had to pull with all my might to get him out, because he was just stuck in it," Michael said.

Caila said it was clear the dogs had a bond. When they got the retriever out first, Caila brought her up to their fenced yard but, before Caila got back to help her dad with the second dog, the retriever had crawled under the fence and was back by the river.

"Once we got the shepherd through the forest and into our yard, she (the retriever) just followed along. She wouldn't leave him when he was stuck. It was almost like a motherly instinct," she said. "I'm just so glad we got them out safely."

When both dogs were safe, Michael and Caila put them in the fenced area around their pool, fed them and supervised them there until city animal services workers picked up the dogs Tuesday afternoon. The dogs were housed at Kindness Kennels awaiting their owners.

Since the dogs were both licensed, they were back home before suppertime Tuesday,

Owners Monika and Chris Goller said Miley, the three-year-old golden retriever, and Zulu, the four-year-old German shepherd, are inseparable, with a penchant for breaking out of their fenced yard. Chris had just boarded up the site of a previous escape but Zulu chewed through the board and Miley followed.

"The man from Kindness Kennels told us they were rescued from the river. It makes me unbelievably sad that they went through that, but at the same time, I am just so grateful that someone was there to help them," Monika said, adding it cost the family $400 to get the dogs back this time. She said Chris fixed the fence again Tuesday night and added bricks in front of it. "When we let them out today, they ran right back over to that spot in the yard."

Michael and Caila Kucheravy didn't hesitate to rescue them because they have a 15-year-old chocolate Lab named Atlas in their family.

"I can't imagine how these dogs got out there, but I knew someone would want them back," said Michael.

Caila's sister, Erin, and brother, Dylan, posted the dogs' photo on the Winnipeg Lost Dog Alert's Facebook page on Tuesday, where it was shared 529 times and attracted two commenters who said they knew the owners.

ashley.prest@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 22, 2014 A8

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