Ball Ground, Ga.(WAGA)Tater Blackwell lives a pretty charmed life. Rescued as a puppy, the Australian cattle dog/blue heeler mix goes to work every day at Kennesaw State University's 25-acre farm, with his owner Michael Blackwell. Blackwell, KSU's lead farmer in the Farm to College program, says Tater is his best friend, "He goes everywhere I go, literally."
On March 27th, Michael and Tater were visiting a friend's farm near Ball Ground, Georgia, when Tater saw a squirrel, at the foot of this leaning tree. The squirrel ran up the tree, with Tater right behind him.
Blackwell says, about 25 feet up in the air, "The squirrel jumps off, (with) Tater right behind him. And there just happened to be a power pole, with a grounding rod in the soil, and he landed right on top of it, right dead and center of his chest."
Tater was impaled. The half-inch rod cut straight through his body. Blackwell knew if he pulled Tater off the rod, Tater might bleed to death. So, somehow, he pulled the rod, with Tater still attached, out of the ground.
He and a friend rushed Tater to a local vet. Blackwell says the vet cut the rod, and called Georgia Veterinary Specialists' emergency clinic, telling them to stand by, Tater was on the way.
When the veterinary tech met them at their car, Blackwell says she said, "Oh, my God. I had no idea it was this bad!" Inside, GVS surgeon Alan Cross, says Tater was lying on a table with the rod running straight through him from his sternum to his back. His main concern was that the rod had pierced a major artery, which would be deadly. In the waiting room,
Blackwell says the horror of the day hit him hard. He says, "Once he got in (the OR) and the adrenaline came down, I was inconsolable. I thought there was a really good chance I was going to lose him."
But, Tater is one lucky dog. The rebar pierced one of his lungs, but just missed his heart. The GVS team removed it with no complications. Blackwell says, "He became sort of a hero at the vet, they'd never seen anything like that."
Two days later, Tater went home to Jasper, and Blackwell's farm.
Dr. Cross says he's going to be just fine.
And Michael Blackwell is just grateful his best friend is still going strong.
We checked in with Michael Blackwell Monday afternoon. He says Tater is back on patrol at the KSU farm. He is on "light duty." Meaning no chasing squirrels – or anything else – for now.