The latest recruit to the Rocky Mountain Rangers was almost immediately promoted to corporal because he lasted a week or two in the Chilcotin Plateau on his own.
He was found on March 30 by a couple of the rangers who were out driving around and doing training exercises in the area on the last day of a 10-day session.
“He was trying to eat a leather glove. He was pretty hungry,” Master Cpl. Jeremiah White said Wednesday.
At first, he thought they’d come across a young bear. The rangers got closer and realized it was an injured eight-month-old border collie cross.
“He was limping. He could barely use his back end,” he said.
“We picked him up, took him back to camp, fed him a ration.”
They called the veterinary clinics in the area, but no one had reported the dog missing
“We figured he jumped out of a truck or somebody drove up there and left him,” he said.
And so the rangers took some camouflage lining out of some jackets and made Cpl. Chilco a bandana.
“We promoted him to corporal because of his survival ability.”
White’s girlfriend works at Valleyview Veterinary Clinic, so it was a natural fit that that’s where the dog would be taken. Turned out Cpl. Chilco had a broken jaw — an expensive fix that might have been the reason he was dumped off in the first place, he said.
“His jaw was shattered, basically,” White said.
Chilco’s first surgery was an attempt to stitch the jaw back together, but it turned out there was so much dead flesh, the sutures didn’t hold. He underwent a second operation a few days ago.
Veterinarian Dr. Bruce Maricle said Chilco is a lucky dog who wouldn’t have survived much longer if he hadn’t been found by the rangers.
“He was pretty darned thin,” he said.
The dog received some kind of hard blow to the mouth that broke the jaw and knocked out a lower canine tooth. Despite whatever occurred, Chilco has shown to have a great temperament.
“Border collies tend to be timid. This dog was very friendly, very easy to work with,” he said.
The best-case scenario would be to put in a new jaw plate, but that costs between $2,000 and $2,500, Maricle said.
Because the rangers didn’t have that kind of money, he went with another option which was to stitch the jaw together firmly with material that will last three months, giving the bones time to heal and reattach.
“I’ve had really good success with this method. There may be a need for a plate down the road,” he said.
“The healing can be very remarkable in terms of how much damage can be done, and six months later, you go what damage?’”
An X-ray showed his back end was bruised, but nothing was broken.
White said Chilco is already recovering well.
“He’s running around now pretty well.”
Clinic staff, including White’s girlfriend, donated much of their time, but the bills are still adding up. The rangers have passed the hat for their new mascot, and have even set up a Facebook page to seek more donations.
In the meantime, he has found a home.
“He’s a real sweetie. He’s an amazing dog. If we didn’t already have two, I’d adopt him myself,” said White.
But since he did have two dogs, Master Cpl. Simon Labelle was looking for a dog, so he offered to take Chilco. He has a ranch where the recovering dog will have room to run.
So far, he gets along with the other animals on the farm, except one.
“He’s afraid of the pig,” White said.
The Facebook page for Cpl. Chilco is called Cpl. Chilco Rescue.