Remember Chopper, the friendly 135-pound dog who needed specialized knee surgery and whose story inspired local residents to donate thousands to pay for it?
Chopper, age 3, has had his surgery, which involved placing pins and plates in the knees of both hind legs.
And, after plenty of media publicity, he’s been promoted from pet to an ambassador of the canine family.
The lumbering, long-legged Rottweiler-mix dog is recovering at a Portland veterinary hospital, said Chuck Tourtillott, executive director of the Humane Society for Southwest Washington.
“He’s doing pretty well but it’s a long recovery process,” Tourtillott said Tuesday. “It’s a difficult surgery on a dog of that size and with that much weight. So far so good.”
As soon as next week, depending on what Chopper’s surgeon says, officials hope to move the dog to the Clark County home of a person who’s been selected to care for him.
The goal is to let Chopper heal and prevent him from re-injuring his knees.
By late March, the society may offer Chopper for adoption, to owners who can afford possible continuing medical costs and won’t encourage him to be too active.
“He’ll never be a runner or a real athletic dog, but he’ll certainly make someone a good companion when he’s through this,” Tourtillott said.
Chopper’s tale emerged in August, when he was taken to the Humane Society on Northeast 192nd Avenue in Vancouver. His owner realized he was in pain from knee problems but couldn’t afford the X-rays to see what was wrong.
The huge black-and-tan dog, whose head rises to people’s waists, offered so much unconditional love — and slobber — that workers at the animal shelter immediately fell in love with him.
His story, first publicized in early January, touched hearts somehow. A couple of days later, folks had donated the $4,500 that, with a matching amount from a foundation, would cover the surgery.
As of Tuesday, Tourtillott said, donations for Chopper had reached about $13,000.
“We can’t thank the public enough,” Tourtillott said. “We’re really proud of our community.”
If there’s money left over once Chopper’s medical bills are added up, the society plans to start a fund for other animals with special medical needs, all inspired by Chopper.
“He’s a wonderful ambassador of the canine family,” Tourtillott said. “He’s such a good boy.”
John Branton: 360-735-4513 or firstname.lastname@example.org.