When mountain biker Jarrett Little was on a group ride near Columbus, Georgia, he spotted a stray dog that needed help.
"We stopped to let everyone regroup and he came out of the woods really happy to see us," Little tells MNN. "He was thin, hadn’t eaten in a while and had obviously been hit by a car."
Little and the other cyclists gave him some water and what food they had on hand — a pack of energy chews — but they knew they couldn't leave the injured pup behind.
"I was concerned for him as was the lady with me named Chris Dixon. We both decided there was no way we could leave him, but we were a long way from town and it was getting dark," Little says.
Using the only form of transportation available, Little gently lifted the dog onto his back and climbed back on his bike to ride.
"It wasn’t easy carrying him as he wasn’t very lightweight but was very calm and understood we were there to help," he says. "As we went, the longer we rode, he was getting tired and held on less and less so the effort required to keep him up there was tough."
Chapter 2: 'I cannot leave him'
As soon as they got into town, they ran into Andrea Shaw. She was from Maine and was in town for a business trip.
"He ran right to her as though he knew she was his next step," Little says.
Shaw had gone to dinner with a colleague and the pair had decided to take a walk to see Columbus. They happened to be passing in front of the cycle shop just as the group returned from their ride.
"This little dog ran up to me and jumped into my arms. I started looking around for his person and started asking about him. Chris Dixon showed me the picture on Jarrett’s back," Shaw tells MNN. "I called him and he jumped in my arms and I haven’t let him go since."
Shaw says she doesn't even remember who gave her the dog's leash, but she immediately called her husband and said, "I found this dog and he's broken. I cannot leave him." He didn't hesitate and only asked to make sure her hotel was pet-friendly.
The journey home
The puppy — now named Columbo (or "Bo") for the city where he was found — next made a stop at an emergency vet. He had a serious case of road rash, as well as several fractures in his leg and a broken toe. He went to an orthopedic vet the next day for surgery and was soon on a Grateful Doggies transport van for the long trip to his new home in Maine.
Bo made the trip with 25 staples in his hind leg and four pins to stabilize the fractures, as well as a full cast on his front leg to stabilize a broken toe. He took medications during the journey and the drivers had to stop once after an upset stomach led to a few unpleasant side effects.
But soon Bo arrived at his new home with his new family, which includes two black and tan coonhounds, several horses and a human brother. Everyone was immediately smitten with the gangly puppy who, it turns out, is probably 5 months old and likely a great Dane.
"He’s a pretty lucky little dude to say the least," says Little, who stays in touch with Shaw.
Because Bo needs 8 to 12 weeks of recovery time, Shaw has bought him "every chew toy known to dog" as he impatiently relaxes in an open-top crate she calls his convertible. She puts the convertible in her car and takes him for rides as she goes on errands so "he doesn't lose his marbles."
The photo of Bo riding on Little's back made its way around social media, making Bo a bit of a celebrity. Because so many people have been eager for updates, the bike-riding pup has his own Adventures of Columbo Facebook page. Many people have asked to contribute to his vet costs, but Shaw suggests instead that they give to a local animal rescue or donate to the Rescue Sunflower Project in Bo's name.
Other than being impatient with the recovery process, Bo is a very kind and sweet dog, says Shaw.
And as Bo posts on his Facebook page, "Mom says having a broken giant puppy isn’t all rainbows and unicorns — but she still loves me to the moon and back."