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Man paddling across Canada for veterans nears end of adventurous journey

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WATCH ABOVE: Mike Ranta and his dog Sprtiz left Vancouver on April first and have paddled and portaged more than 6-thousand kilometers across the country. He hopes to reach his final destination in Cape Breton within the next two weeks. Global's Shelley Steeves caught up with Ranta just before he passed under the confederation bridge – Oct 6, 2016

A man and his dog, paddling the country in a canoe as a thank you to Canadian veterans, are on the final strokes of their journey.

Mike Ranta left Vancouver, B.C. on April 1 and has spent the last six months paddling and portaging more than 6,000 kilometres across the country with his dog Spitzii.

“I can’t believe how emotional it has been for me when I talk to some of these veterans,” Ranta said.

READ MORE: Man paddling across Canada with his dog makes stopover in Winnipeg

Ranta is going to Royal Canadian Legions across the country gathering signatures from veterans whom he says deserve more support for serving their country.

“I am getting veterans to sign my canoe — so if there is any veterans out there and you see me along the water, absolutely stop by and I will get them to sign my canoe,” he said.

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Ranta arriving in Alberta. He has to pull his canoe over steep terrain at times. Facebook: Mike Ranta's Paddle
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Veteran signing Ranta's canoe.
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Spitzii at the helm .
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Canoeing through B.C.

Moncton air force veteran Helena Evans encountered Ranta in Moncton, and says she wishes she had the strength and courage to take on such a monumental journey.

“I think that’s a great undertaking, I think we need more awareness cause I think all of us know at least one vet who needs a lot of help” said Evans.

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Ranta says the veterans are the true heroes

“When we put them into harm’s way and they come back a little bit broken we need to step up and help them,” he said.

He and Spitzii have had some harrowing encounters of their own. Ranta says Spitzii serves as his protector, acting as his very own campsite soldier.

READ MORE: Ontario man canoes across country, ‘bringing light to a broader group of veterans’

“I almost lost him a few times on this trip. He fell into the currents on the Fraser River and he just disappeared and I thought I lost him there. We flipped our canoe outside Thunder Bay right into a pack of wolves and I lost him overnight. I don’t know how he survived, that it is beyond me.”

Spitzii even rescued a baby moose stuck in mud and logs knowing a protective mother was close by.

But Ranta says their hair-raising adventures still pale in comparison to the courage shown by Canadian vets he is paddling for, many of whom suffer from PTSD.

Ranta expects to end his journey in Cape Breton within the next two weeks.

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