GVS’ Vets Save Border Collie After Boating Accident

Boating Accident Leaves Border Collie with Three Legs, and Much Tenacity
On a boating trip, last summer, Panda fell overboard and was caught in the boat propeller.
By Suzanna Logan

Dogs are often referred to as our “four-legged friends,” but  that’s not exactly true for Heather Ernst’s dog, Panda.

Panda, a five-year-old Border Collie mix, was left with only three legs after a boating trip last summer went awry.

On the morning of July 23, Ernst had taken Panda and her three other dogs for an outing on Lake Lanier to enjoy the warm weather.

A few minutes after boarding the boat, Panda fell overboard and was caught in the propeller.

By the time Ernst realized Panda was missing, the water around her was colored with blood. His leg was irreparably damaged.

With the help of a neighbor, Ernst was able to lift 65-pound Panda back onto the boat.

Once on land, Ernst rushed him to the vet, and Panda underwent surgery at the hands of the veterinarians at Georgia Veterinary Specialists in Sandy Springs. (The same folks who aided Uber in last week’s story).

After Panda’s surgery, GVS fitted him with a sling to help him walk, but he wouldn’t budge.

Puzzled, they removed the sling, and Ernst says that Panda began walking immediately.

“It was a miracle,” says Ernst.

Just like Ernst, the doctors at GVS were shocked at Panda’s quick recovery.

“They just kept saying, ‘This dog is such a fighter; we can’t believe it,’” she recalls.

Now, Panda is as good as new—minus one leg, of course.

Watching Panda now, Ernst says it’s hard to believe he was ever in an accident.

“He doesn’t seem to know a leg is gone,” she says, adding that Panda keeps right up with her other dogs.

As further proof of his tenacity, Ernst says that Panda still loves the water, although she has sworn off solo boating trips since the incident.

“It was just one of those life lessons,” she says. “I won’t go out without someone else with me now.”

Surprisingly, three-legged Panda’s approach to the water hasn’t changed one bit.

“He still loves to go boating, and he hasn’t missed a beat,” she says.

This story was originally posted in on January 22, 2011
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