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District employee supports North Dakota flood fight and saves a puppy along the way

Public Affairs
Published July 2, 2013
Paul Machajewski, Corps of Engineers, St. Paul District employee supporting the Red River of the North flood fight, plays with 11-month-old puppy “Chucky” at a park in Fargo, N.D., April 30. The dog’s owner, Timothy Murphy, met Machajewski to say thanks after he saved his dog during temporary levee construction in Fargo. Murphy, a published poet, also sent a poem to Machajewski to show his gratitude. According to Murphy, Chucky is an escape artist that doesn’t have a reverse gear or know how to stop. Machajewski said he was just glad to help and as a fellow dog owner, he said he knew he had to do what he could to protect the dog from harm during the levee construction.

Paul Machajewski, Corps of Engineers, St. Paul District employee supporting the Red River of the North flood fight, plays with 11-month-old puppy “Chucky” at a park in Fargo, N.D., April 30. The dog’s owner, Timothy Murphy, met Machajewski to say thanks after he saved his dog during temporary levee construction in Fargo. Murphy, a published poet, also sent a poem to Machajewski to show his gratitude. According to Murphy, Chucky is an escape artist that doesn’t have a reverse gear or know how to stop. Machajewski said he was just glad to help and as a fellow dog owner, he said he knew he had to do what he could to protect the dog from harm during the levee construction.

When Paul Machajewski, operations, left his home near Winona, Minn., earlier this spring to serve as an emergency operations construction representative for the work being done in and around Fargo, N.D., rescuing a puppy wasn’t even a thought on his mind.

With flood forecasts indicating the potential for a flood of record, the district team began supporting the city of Fargo by constructing several levees. One of the key areas he was initially responsible for involved a temporary emergency levee in the Lindenood Drive area. While on site, Machajewski said he noticed black lab puppy running around the construction area. “He was small, and he was full of energy and constantly moving, so we needed to get him out of there, and we didn’t want him anywhere near the equipment,” he said.

As a self-proclaimed dog lover, Machajewski said he knew the puppy would get hurt or worse, if the dog continued to be around the area where increasing larger levees were being built to hold back the rising river, so he walked the puppy toward an area where people were standing outside. He said the puppy, an 11-month-old named Chuckie, took off toward the group. Timothy Murphy, one of those people in the group, happened to be Chuckie’s owner.

Murphy, an accomplished poet and author, said Chuckie is an “escape artist” much like one of his previous labs – Feeny. “Chuckie’s staged five jail breaks in six days,” said Murphy.“So this was not a surprise, ut right now, he is in jail out at Sheyenne River Kennels where they have 8-foot chain link fences. As soon as I can get one of those built, he can come home.”According to Murphy, Chuckie’s family history includes more than just being able to escape. The history includes several national field champions. Machajewski said the most significant part of this fact is that Chuckie’s motherwas a national champion. There have been very few female labs that have successfully competed at such a high level.