A dog pulled from a cold mountain river about a week ago is lucky to be alive.
The pooch, who has been named River, was found stranded in Catawba River in Old Fort after people heard him barking for hours.
"He's a precious dog, very precious, very sweet," Mercy Fund Animal Rescue founder Joy Harklerode said. "Loves his water, loves to drink water."
Thirst may be what got the 10-plus-year-old schnauzer-mix in trouble last Saturday. He somehow wound up stuck in the river, where people who heard him barking, snagged him from the water and got him to Mercy Fund Animal Rescue and then a veterinarian.
"They had to sedate him to shave him down," Harklerode said. "And he had lots of mats and stuff all over him, kind of painful in the way he walked, and in his neck. They think he's pretty arthritic."
River is an arthritic and pathetic dog right now -- he still has difficulty moving and is still dehydrated and exhausted. And he was virtually blind to begin with.
How he got into the Catawba remains a mystery.
"I can't say that he was abandoned or thrown in the river or if he just wandered in there and fell in, you know, we don't know," Harklerode said.
What she does know is that she had to come up with a name to get her newest rescue in to see the vet.
"I had to come up with something quickly," Harklerode said. "We were deciding either River or Moses. You know Moses was drawn out of the river, and River just, you know, Old Man River, you know, like that song, it just kind of went with it."
River will stay with Mercy Fund Animal Rescue for now, with humans who love him.
"You don't have to worry, that's what I always tell them, you're safe in the arms of Mercy," Harklerode said. "So, that's what we aim to give them, a safe and loving place."
Dogs like River can be difficult to adopt or foster out, but Mercy Fund always tries to make it happen. Click here if you'd like more information about the group, making a donation or adopting a pet.