Nine-year-old Buster fought so hard to protect his home that he shattered several teeth as he chomped on his attacker's hunting knife. He also suffered gashes to his throat, shoulder and jowls.

"Every room of my house was filled with blood. It was like a murder scene," said Larry Wagaman, who returned home to the crime scene about 10:20 a.m. Thursday at his east St. Paul house.

Buster, a fawn boxer who survived his latest surgery on Monday, was home alone while Wagaman went on a 20-minute run to buy supplies for a weekend bow-hunting trip.

Wagaman, an Anoka County corrections officer, returned to find Buster slumped in his basement kennel in a puddle of blood and gasping for air through a sucking neck wound.

A thief (or thieves) broke in by smashing two windows of the house on the 1800 block of E. Maryland Avenue. Cash, computers, a hunting bow, three rifles and Wagaman's corrections uniforms were stolen. The invader turned Wagaman's own 6-inch hunting knife on Buster, then left the bloody weapon on the kitchen table.

Wagaman wasn't surprised Buster fought so hard to protect the house he's lived in since he was a puppy.

"He's a dog that comes around every 100 years. He's just awesome," Wagaman said. Buster "fought him off every room they were in."

The dog spent Thursday night at the University of Minnesota veterinary hospital and spent the weekend at home, where Wagaman fed him soft food, kept him warm and medicated with painkillers.

Buster's Monday surgery was to repair his face wounds and to extract broken teeth.

The dog's care exceeded $3,000 -- before the latest surgery. "That's a lot of money, but I don't care. He's a hero," Wagaman said.

Employees in the St. Paul emergency communications center, who heard the initial emergency call, have already raised $500 to help. A fund has been set up for Buster's care in his name at any Wells Fargo branch. The "Buster Fund" is account No. 642-89-22-071.

Still whiny and sore, Buster's getting TLC at home from 16-year-old Brandie Wagaman, who is sharing a sleeping bag with Buster on the living room floor.

Although he's been moving slowly, Buster has resumed his post as watch commander at the house. Wagaman said: "Even with all the wounds, he wants to sit up and look out the window."

St. Paul police spokesman Howie Padilla said the case is being investigated but police don't yet know if there were multiple intruders. "We have limited suspect information," he said.

He noted, however, that burglaries of residences have been up this year and that police already have sent out warnings about being vigilant, keeping homes maintained and garage doors locked. Padilla asked anyone with information on this case to call 651-266-5616.

Rochelle Olson • 651-925-5035 Twitter: @rochelleolson