Thorton a Legend in his own time!
By Jackie Patterson
It was May 3rd and Brandon’s birthday. Brandon is a commercial fisherman who builds boats in the winter in his shop in Wrangell, AK. His constant companion is Thorton, an 8 year old Chessie who is with him 24/7. Late that night after some birthday celebrating with friends, Brandon fell asleep in a recliner chair in his shop. His Chessie, Thorton, was lying with him, just resting. A fire broke out and the shop burned to the ground in about 4-5 minutes. As reported by Brandon’s grandmother, Denise, there were fireballs and explosions due to some of the items in the shop. The shop was totally destroyed. Denise feared that Brandon had been lost in the fire since it burned so quickly.
But no! Thorton, who could have gone out the doggie door in the shop when the fire broke out, stayed and woke Brandon so that they both were able to run out of the shop before it was destroyed. Denise was so relieved to find Brandon and Thorton alive! When they watched footage on the security cameras, Brandon said, “I woke up wrestling Thorton off me and realized the building was on fire!” Without a doubt, Thorton saved Brandon’s life. He was the bravest dog, continuing to check on Brandon all during the fire department’s efforts to extinguish the fire!
Wrangell shop was a total loss, but thanks to Thorton, Brandon is alive to rebuild
But wait! There is much more to Thorton’s saga! Thorton, born in April 2014 to a breeder in Spokane, WA, has been with Brandon since he was 10 weeks old. He lives on the water in Wrangell, AK and goes fishing with Brandon all during the season. Thorton is a great swimmer. When fishing nets are out of the water and the boat is close to shore, with permission, Thorton dives off the boat and heads for shore for exercise. When Brandon calls him back, Thorton swims to the boat and into a tote that Brandon puts into the water and a hydraulic winch pulls him and his tote up and over the railings.
Thorton on the boat on the lookout for fish
Thorton in his tote back in the boat
Two years ago, Thorton was lost during one of their fishing expeditions. They were upstream in the Stikine River and the boat scraped rocks, startling Thorton. He jumped out of the boat and swam away. Once Brandon got the boat off the rocks, he called for Thorton, but he was nowhere to be found. For two weeks, family and friends helped to look for him. It wasn’t safe to put food out for Thorton until the very end when hope was all but lost as it attracts bears, wolves and other deadly animals. To try to attract Thorton, they put Brandon’s cologne on some gloves and placed them in paths where Thorton had been lost and left his bedding there as well. A helicopter and drones looked for him, fliers were posted and the Forest Service kept an eye out for him. Brandon kept looking for him – Thorton had been with him every moment of his life.
Finally, after 2 weeks alone in the Alaskan wilderness, Thorton was found about a mile away from where he had jumped out of the boat! What a relief and joy to Brandon! Thorton’s pads were worn down and he had porcupine quills in him that had become infected. One quill had migrated from Thorton’s mouth up toward his eye, causing considerable swelling. He was flown by charter plane to a vet in Juneau where his quills were removed, his eye saved and meds prescribed to combat the infection. He had lost 30 pounds, but he was still Thorton – a once in a lifetime dog, brave and tough as nails. Just happy to be back with Brandon, Thorton was ready to play ball and go fishing with his best friend.
Brandon, Thorton and Fish