It used to be a sad fact that if an animal was born with deformed limbs, it had to have its leg(s) amputated or suffered from paralysis.
The choices were bleak: euthanasia, let the animal suffer or attach a specially made cart with wheels to its hind end.
Although the carts do serve their purpose with those dogs left with paralysis, technology is now taking prosthetics on dogs a “step forward.”
These two dogs had ruff beginnings, but instead of “rolling over” and giving up, these amazing canines continued to thrive (with the help of dedicated pet parents) despite the many obstacles they would have to face.
Meet Nakio the dog and Derby the dog, who are proving that they can still run with the big canines, even though they needed a little help to get there. These are their tails…
Nakio the Dog Goes “Bionic”
Nakio the dog was abandoned when he was just a puppy in Nebraska. He was left to die in the basement of a home, along with his mother in the dead of winter.
Unfortunately, by the time he was finally rescued his mom had already succumbed to the sub-zero temperatures and all four of little Nakio’s paws were frozen into a puddle.
In addition, this neglected animal was also suffering from an extreme case of mange and malnutrition.
Veterinarians worked to bring Nakio back to health, but due to the severe frostbite he had suffered, the decision was made to amputate all four of his paws and also part of his tail. This left the poor pup with only rounded stubs for legs.
A veterinary assistant (Christine Pace) fell in love with this little fighter and brought him home after he was stable. This is when Nakio’s real battle began. As a puppy, Nakio could move about by scooting across the floor and backyard in a worm-like fashion.
However, as he began to grow larger and heavier, this maneuver caused Nakio too much pain, especially on hard surfaces. Pace was willing to carry the pup around or pull him in a wagon, but this was no way for this determined dog to live on a permanent basis.
OrthoPets to the Rescue!
After helping a dog be fitted for a knee brace in the clinic where she works, Pace started brainstorming ideas to help Nakio. This is when she found OrthoPets, a veterinary hospital in Denver that specializes in making fully functional prosthetics for animals.
The catch? Each artificial limb costs between $600 and $850. Pace got to work and managed to fundraise enough money for two prosthetic paws. Nakio did so well with his manmade hind paws, that OrthoPets decided to cover the cost for his front two legs.
The technology behind these “bionic” paws uses the same materials as would be used for human prosthetics which are formed from polypropylene plastic. Once the form is molded, a waterproof foam material is used as padding so it sits comfortably on the animal’s body. Then to add some extra no-slip protection on each paw, the bottoms are covered with BMX bicycle tire tread.
Today, Nakio is running and playing just like any other pooch and has been given a whole new lease on life!
“His prosthetics changed his life and ours,” Pace writes on Facebook. “We could finally take him for a walk down the street! It was the little things that are usually taken for granted that we now enjoy together!”
Watch Nakio the dog in this YouTube video enjoying a game of fetch.
Derby the Dog and His 3D Prosthetics
Derby the dog was born with severely deformed front legs and paws. Unable to care for a handicapped pup, Derby’s first owners relinquished him over to the kind folks at the Peace and Paws dog rescue in New Hampshire. What chance would a dog like Derby have of finding a forever home?
Meet Tara Anderson. She not only took Derby home to foster him, but she set out to get him up and moving. Oh, did I mention she is the Director of Product Management at a company called 3D Systems?
Derby’s process started in 2014 when the first set of prosthetics were designed for him. They were dubbed “the blades” and were lower to the ground so Derby could get used to the idea of walking on artificial limbs. Derby took to these apparatuses like a duck to water and was able to run and play just like any other canine.
However, Anderson wanted to get Derby standing tall, so his back would not be in a permanent downward slope.
Selective Laser Sintering to the Rescue
After many attempts to get Derby upright, the day finally came when the team hit the perfect design by using a technology called Selective Laser Sintering.
In a nutshell, this modern-day marvel is able to use heat from a high-powered laser to fuse together particles to create a 3D form. Once the form was perfected a nylon was used to mold the form as it closely mimics the flexibility one would find in a natural knee-joint.
Thanks to this new 2.0 blade, Derby is now up and running, playing and loving his new found freedom.
Check out Derby’s new front prosthetics for dogs in this YouTube video:
Special Needs Dogs Are Getting New Lives
Thanks to the wonders of technology, dogs (and cats) born with limb deformities or those amputees are now getting a second chance to live a normal life. If you have a pet that may benefit from prosthetics for dogs, then ask your veterinarian for any information he or she may have.
These animals deserve the chance to live with freedom, adventure and happiness, just like any other pet.