Columbo, the injured puppy rescued by bike in Georgia and adopted in Maine by Andrea Shaw checks out the latest box of donations to arrive at his new home in Gorham. Shaw is working with a local animal shelter to get the donated items into the paws of shelter pets. Credit: Courtesy of Andrea Shaw

Never in her wildest dreams did Andrea Shaw think she’d ever be talking about rescue dogs, Belgian athletes and international inline skating competitions in the same sentence.

But that was before she helped rescue Columbo, the stray dog she adopted last month.

Columbo — or Bo — gained global media attention after he was found by Georgia bicyclist Jarrett Little who carried the obviously injured dog on his bicycle 7 miles back to Columbia where Shaw first met the pup in mid-July.

She immediately decided to bring the dog back to her small farm in Gorham and to make sure Bo received the medical attention he needed for a broken hind leg, broken toe and facial lacerations.

“He is part of our family now,” Shaw said Monday. “He is an incredibly affectionate, loyal, happy puppy who loves everyone.”

On the road to recovery

Bo’s injuries are healing well as the Great Dane mix continues physical therapy, Shaw said.

“It’s getting harder and harder to keep him calm and quiet,” she said. “So that means he is getting better.”

Bo is on bed rest with limited activity for at least another couple of weeks as his hind leg continues to mend, and the four metal pins the veterinarians installed in it set in place.

“He is having another set of X-rays done this week, and I am hoping he will get a few more physical activity restrictions lifted,” Shaw said. “But at least we can do five minutes of walking in the morning and again in the evening, [and] he can swim in the lake if he wears his life vest, and I hold him so his feet don’t touch bottom and he does not put weight on that leg.”

Credit: Courtesy of Andrea Shaw

When he’s not resting or taking part in his physical therapy program, Bo is checking out the hundreds of gifts that have poured in from around the world from some of his fans.

Immediately after rescuing the dog, Shaw started a Facebook page “The Adventures of Columbo,” and it now has more than 18,000 followers who track his progress, comment on his photos, and send constant well wishes and more.

“He’s gotten 15 blankets, 15 really nice microfiber towels, tons of stuffed toys, two bags of squeaky toys, another 25 different dog toys, winter coats, collars, bags of treats, poop bags, 16 jars of peanut butter and two 10-pound boxes of Milk Bones,” Shaw said. “It looks like Amazon threw up in my living room.”

It hasn’t stopped there.

“I had someone reach out from Belgium wanting to help,” she said. “They are members of an inline skaters team and on their way to a national competition, [and] they told me they are going to send any prize money they win to Columbo.”

Junior members of the same team plan on holding their own fundraiser to help out.

Paying it forward

Now Shaw and Bo are putting all that goodwill to good use.

“It’s crazy,” Shaw said. “I know Bo has this amazing story, but I am so humbled how his story really caught fire.”

Shaw is working with the Coastal Humane Society in Brunswick to distribute care packages containing the donated items to shelter dogs in Maine and at a partner shelter in Georgia. She’s also working to set up The Columbo Fund, which will help other animals get the veterinary care they need. The shelter has also agreed to accept the donations when the fund is up and running.

“Three dogs only need so many toys and treats,” Shaw said. “I want a lot of this to go to other shelter pets.”

Coastal Humane was more than happy to step in and help out, according to Jane Siviski, marketing manager at the shelter.

“Andrea has the resources to make sure Bo gets the excellent care he needs, so she decided to pay it forward,” Siviski said. “The Columbo Fund will help [Coastal Humane Society] animals that are in need of extra veterinary care like the care Columbo received.”

That care includes trauma, emergency care, orthopedic surgery and dental care.

“A fair amount of our animals are in need of this kind of care,” Siviski said. “We obviously make sure they get all the care they need, so this fund will be a huge help.”

Shaw is also talking with food pantries in Maine that supply dog food to owners in need about making monetary and food donations.

Shaw, a Portland banking attorney, is having a pretty good time with it all, and if there is any downside it’s that none of it is happening as fast as she’d like.

“We are talking about people sending cash donations along with all the other items,” she said. “I want to make sure we set this up right more than I want to do it fast.”

Shaw said she is shocked that Bo’s story has gone around the globe and the ensuing response.

“This does show there are more good caring people than bad out there,” she said. “This is such a huge opportunity to have an impact and do some good, [and] I really learned from this that you have to be open to all possibilities that come your way for doing good, because you never know what’s around the next corner.”

In Shaw’s case, it was a broken puppy looking for some love.

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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.