GORHAM — When Andrea Shaw left for Georgia on a business trip, she didn’t expect to come home with a famous dog as the newest member of her family.

But after an evening of southern barbecue with a co-worker and a chance meeting on the street with a group of bicyclists, the Gorham resident wound up with the roughly 6-week-old puppy she has since named Columbo.

Columbo, or Bo for short, is named after the city of Columbus, Georgia, where he was found by bicyclists Jarrett Little and Chris Dixon of Alabama on July 10, injured on the side of the road.

The photogenic pup became an internet sensation thanks to a picture of Little biking while carrying an injured Columbo on his back for 7 miles to a bike shop, where the group of cyclists crossed paths with Shaw.

“He just looked at me, and ran to me on three legs,” Shaw said. “He picked me … and honestly, I love him to pieces.”

Realizing that Columbo was injured, she called her husband, Joel, back in Maine to make sure he was all right with some unanticipated vet bills.

The Shaws, both lawyers in the Portland area, already had two rescue dogs at their Gorham home. She said her husband didn’t hesitate and asked only if her hotel was pet-friendly.

After a whirlwind of vet visits and surgery in Georgia and a pet transport up the East Coast, Columbo eventually found his way to the Shaws’ home in Gorham.

He had likely been hit by a car, and had multiple femur fractures in his left hind leg and a broken toe on his front right foot. Shaw said surgery placed four pins in his back leg, which also required roughly 25 stitches. His movement is limited for the time being as he undergoes veterinary rehabilitation.

Based on his size and teeth, Shaw said the veterinary surgeon thought Columbo is a Great Dane mix now about 6 weeks old.

She declined to say exactly how much money she’s spent helping Columbo in his recovery.

“Lots – but he’s worth every penny,” Shaw said. “Whatever he needs, that’s what he’s going to get.”

Shaw “scoured” lost dog groups and websites while she was in Georgia to make sure people weren’t looking for Columbo, and found no listings even remotely similar to him. She and her husband decided that, since they had already made an investment in his recovery, they might as well see if he fit in with their family.

In addition to their two rescues, Pluto and Levi, the Shaws and their 5-year-old son, Christopher, have a horse and a Shetland pony.

So far, Columbo has had no trouble fitting in.

Shaw said the puppy has “such a nice disposition” and is “super-friendly” with people and the other animals.

“He’s a pretty chill little dog,” said Shaw, who was still surprised that Little was able to get Columbo to stay on his shoulders during the more than 7-mile bike ride to safety.

“Leaving him behind was never really an option,” said Little, a competitive mountain bike racer who has four rescue dogs at home.

Fellow bicyclist Chris Dixon, who took the viral photo of Columbo on Little’s back, has three dogs of her own and called it a “miracle” that Shaw was there to care for the dog.

“He immediately bonded with her,” Dixon said. “I’m just super thankful that we stopped.”

Little described meeting Shaw as “the most incredible part of the story, because we crossed paths instantly.”

If it was fate that brought them all together, it has also brought a wave of attention — especially on social media.

“It’s shocking and overwhelming to me,” said Shaw, who created the Facebook page “Adventures of Columbo” to keep people updated on his recovery and new life in Maine.

The page has already amassed over 15,000 followers from around the world, and almost overnight turned Shaw into Columbo’s public relations specialist.

“He’s an international internet celebrity,” she said with a smile. “I never thought I’d work for a dog.”

She hopes to use the newfound platform to raise awareness about rescuing and adopting dogs, along with spaying and neutering pets.

“I think we can do a lot of good here,” Shaw said.

Little hopes the attention will inspire people to help animals in need.

“If it causes a few more people to do something similar, that’s a good result for me,” Little said.

Jarrett Little found Columbo injured on the side of the road in Georgia, then biked with him for more than 7 miles to get help. (Photo courtesy of Chris Dixon via Adventures of Columbo)

Andrea Shaw, with her son Christopher, says their new puppy Columbo has quickly made himself at home with the family and their other animals. (Matt Junker/The Forecaster)


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under: