Happiness is a warm puppy — especially if his name is Raider and he's recently been rescued from the freezing cold by three Saskatchewan hockey players.
The six-week-old pup is going to a new home Thursday after several days at the Prince Albert, Sask., SPCA animal shelter.
He arrived there Tuesday night after being found in the back of a pickup truck by three members of the Prince Albert Raiders of the Western Hockey League.
The hockey players were in the parking lot of a movie theatre when they saw someone drop something into the back of the truck.
Josh Morrissey, who plays defence for the Raiders, said the person took off and a few seconds later the trio noticed the bundle was a dog.
'He was almost fighting for his life at the time because he looked pretty, pretty cold.' —Prince Albert Raiders player Josh Morrissey
"He started to crawl over toward us with some pretty wide eyes," Morrissey said.
"You could see it in his face that he had been treated pretty bad ... he was almost fighting for his life at the time because he looked pretty, pretty cold."
The players — Morrissey and teammates Carson Perreaux and Shane Danyluk — brought the puppy inside their warm car and called the police.
Saskatchewan is the the throes of a deep freeze and the temperature in Prince Albert at the time was around -30 C.
Prince Albert SPCA spokeswoman Leanne Roberts said the dog — whom staff originally named Ruben but later changed to Raider — is doing fine. But it was so cold Tuesday night, he could easily have perished, Roberts said.
"Absolutely he would have died, there is no doubt in my mind," she said.
Roberts said the case makes her think about all the other abandoned dogs out on the street.
"Whenever you see something like that my first reaction is, you know, you're a lucky little guy ... but where's the rest of his litter?"
The puppy was suffering from mange, a skin disease, and had patches of hair missing, scabs and open wounds, the shelter said.
He's being treated with antibiotics.
Raider will be going to a temporary home for about a month. When he's feeling better, he'll be put up for adoption.