Rescue dog saves family with 21-month-old daughter from rabid woodchuck near NH lake
HEBRON — Anjuli Tremble sat on the patio of her in-law's lake house when she noticed an animal coming out of the shrubs, looking aggressively toward her 7-year-old rescue dog. Within moments of the woodchuck's appearance, the dog struck, saving the Tremble family and some neighbors from the rabid animal.
"It was a little crazy especially because you never know if those things are ever going to snap and bite the dog or come at you," Anjuli said.
Anjuli spent time May 27 getting the garden ready with her mother-in-law Jane and 21-month-old daughter Zinnia before they hosted a Memorial Day cookout at a family lake house on West Shore Road by Newfound Lake. As Jane and Zinnia went inside to do some baking, the woodchuck crawled out from under the shrub staring at their dog Bogie, who the Tremble family described as Zinnia's protector.
"The way (the woodchuck) was approaching (Bogie), I can certainly see why there would be a fear that he could come after us," Anjuli said.
Anjuli noticed the animal at the same time her dog did, who immediately lunged at the woodchuck, also known as a groundhog.
"He's not aggressive, but he is aggressive when a strange animal comes into whatever he senses is his area," said Anjuli's husband Josh, who was out getting pizza at the time of the incident.
Bogie grabbed the woodchuck by the neck before shaking it. He then dropped the woodchuck before picking it up again.
Anjuli went in to help Bogie, unsure at this point if the woodchuck was rabid.
"I grabbed him by the collar, and he's standing on his hind-legs shaking it while I still have the collar," Anjuil said. "He finally dropped it, and it rolled down the hillside."
The Tremble family found the woodchuck dead a day later. Bob Tremble, Anjuli's father-in-law, called New Hampshire Fish and Game who took the woodchuck and conducted tests on it. A couple days later the family learned that the animal did have rabies.
Their immediate concern came toward the health of their family, including Zinnia and Bogie.
"As soon as we found out it was rabid, we both were like, do we all now have to get vaccinated? Is it OK depending on how young (Zinnia) is - she's only a year and nine months - so is that going to disrupt her growth? So the initial reaction was a little scary," Anjuli said.
Thankfully, everyone turned out to be fine because they did not come in immediate contact with the woodchuck like Bogie did.
Fish and Game explained to Anjuli and Josh that Bogie did not break the skin of the woodchuck and also did not get bitten during the attack. Officials instructed that Bogie get a booster rabies shot, since he already is vaccinated for rabies and to look for any changes in behavior over the next 10 days.
"He's back to his regular, old self," Josh said.
Bogie helped alleviate some anxiety within the neighborhood by helping to get rid of the woodchuck, who allegedly chased after two other neighbors days before.
The woodchuck had made the neighborhood his home over the past two years, but started acting strange the week prior to Memorial Day, neighbor Jim Davis said.
The strange behavior was a result from the rabies the animal had extracted. Mark Ellingwood, Wildlife Division chief for Fish and Game, said rabies in woodchucks are rare, especially in New Hampshire.