With his broken leg and toe on the mend, Bo the rescue dog from Georgia is recovering happily at his new home with the Shaw family in Gorham. Credit: Courtesy of Andrea Shaw

The story of how a stray injured puppy named Bo rode on a bicycle in Georgia and ended up living on a small farm in southern Maine may sound like the plot of a Disney movie.

But this is real life. This is how Portland-based banking attorney Andrea Shaw ended up coming home from a business trip to Columbus, Georgia, last week with a new family member.

Love at first sight

“I couldn’t help myself,” Shaw said by phone Wednesday morning. “I just wanted to save this broken, little dog.”

Bo was found last Wednesday by a group of cyclists out on their regular ride near Columbus.

Not wanting to leave the injured pup behind, cyclist Jarrett Little loaded the dog on his back and pedaled the 7 or so miles back to town with him.

Meanwhile, Shaw and her colleague Stephan Pongnon had just finished dinner and were taking a walk around town before calling it a night.

“We found a place where they were playing live music and would have already been gone, but I was gawking at this German Shepard [and] joking I’d take him home when I turned around and saw this little dog,” Shaw said. “He just ran over and jumped in my arms.”

Shaw said Little told her how they found the dog, and she was at once captivated.

“I stopped petting him and stood up and noticed I had blood on my blouse,” she said. “Bo had walked off a ways, but I called him back to me and have not let go of him yet.”

Columbo — or Bo — for short, as Shaw named him, had an obvious broken back leg and severe scrapes to his face.

“I called my husband right there and said, ‘Sweetie, it’s me, I found this broken and battered puppy and I’m not leaving him,’” she said. To which her husband Joel Shaw, replied. “Is your hotel pet-friendly?”

Triage and treatment

Accompanied by Pongnon — who it turned out is allergic to dogs but did not want to miss out on the action — Shaw took Bo in her rented Mustang convertible to Animal General Hospital in Columbus where his injuries were diagnosed and a plan of treatment was formulated.

From there — after taking her collegue back to the hotel to recover from his allergic reaction to the dog — Shaw arranged to have Bo transferred to South Eastern Veterinary Surgery Center in Columbus the next day where they were able to arrange their schedule to operate on the pup’s broken hind leg and broken toe on a front paw right away.

Shaw also had Bo tested for parasites and vaccinated.

She then learned that the cheerful, roughly 5-month-old puppy was not a boxer-mix as she had first thought.

He’s a Great Dane.

Homeward bound

“I had first thought of finding him a foster home in Georgia,” Shaw said. “But then my husband texted me and suggested I see how he gets along with our two coonhounds. When I told him he was a Great Dane, he texted back, ‘By they way, how’s that foster coming?’”

But it was too late, with her husband’s blessing, Shaw arranged ground transport with Grateful Doggies, a company that routinely delivers rescue dogs to new homes up and down the eastern seaboard.

Bo was picked up at 1 p.m. last Friday in Columbus and at 8 p.m. the next day Shaw was meeting him in Kittery.

With four pins in his back leg and a front leg wrapped in a splint, Bo is not out of the woods yet, Shaw said.

“Because he is still growing, they put in ‘smooth’ pins that could come out on their own,” she said. “If they do before he is done growing, that could impair the functionality of that leg.”

But Shaw is confident the little dog is going to pull through. On Wednesday he was seeing the veterinarians at Animal Emergency and Special Care in Portland, and this week his family will start at-home physical therapy for him.

“He is so sweet and one of the smartest dogs I have ever met,” Shaw said. “He knows his name, and I have yet to hear him growl or make a nasty face.”

For their part, the Shaws’ two rescue coonhounds — Levi and Pluto — quickly adopted Bo into the pack.

“They usually want to run and wrestle,” Shaw said. “Then I bring this strange, battered puppy in and they walked out of their crate and just sniffed him calmly.

Since then, the two coonhounds have developed the “puppy protection program” as they calmly walk alongside Bo during his limited time outdoors.

“We have to keep him calm and in a crate for at least eight weeks, “ Shaw said. “My 5-year-old son has started sleeping on the couch at night next to Bo’s crate so he’s not lonely or scared.”

In addition to the dogs, the Shaws have two horses on their five-acre homestead in Gorham.

Media darling

Shaw figured getting Bo patched up and back on four paws would be the end of the story.

But the story has caught the attention of animal lovers worldwide.

Bo has been featured in the United Kingdom’s The Daily Mail, LA Times, Inside Edition and on CBS News.

As of midday Wednesday his Facebook page Adventures of Columbo had more than 6,000 followers, up from 4,300 that morning.

“I never expected this,” Shaw said. “We are kind of quiet people, but we are glad Bo is making so many people happy.”

Bo’s story, Shaw said, underscores the importance of rescuing dogs, and she hopes to use his newfound celebrity status to promote adopting dogs versus going to breeders.

“Rescue dogs are just so loving and so much fun,” she said. “Shelters are so overloaded, it’s so important to spay and neuter your dogs.”

And Bo? For all intents and purposes, the broken puppy from Georgia has won the doggy version of the Maine Lottery.

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Julia Bayly

Julia Bayly is a reporter at the Bangor Daily News with a regular bi-weekly column. Julia has been a freelance travel writer/photographer since 2000.