A dog who had all four of his paws amputated when he was just a puppy is going walkies once again, thanks to a brand new set of bionic legs.
Naki’o, a Red Heeler cattle dog, was abandoned in a frozen puddle and suffered such severe frostbite that he was left with just stumps to move about on.
His future was looking grim until veterinary surgeon Christie Tomlinson, who was looking for a playmate for her golden retriever, saw him at a Colorado rescue centre.
She said: ‘I’ve always had a soft spot for animals with problems.
I knew I had the skills and knowledge to be able to take care of him properly.
‘I took him to work with me every day and was able to x-ray his legs regularly to see how they were developing.’
At first Naki’o was small and light enough to hold himself up on his stumps without too much difficulty.
But as he grew and gained weight it became painful for him to walk, especially on hard surfaces.
‘I felt so bad for him as his condition worsened,’ said Christie.
‘He is such a hyper and happy dog, but I was having to take him for walks in a stroller and carry him around.
‘He couldn’t be a normal dog, he couldn’t lead the life he wanted.’
Eventually Naki’o had to crawl along on his tummy at home and at the clinic’s daycare centre.
Then Christie heard about a company called Orthopets in Denver, Colorado.
Founded by husband and wife team Martin and Amy Kaufmann,
Orthopets began when Martin saw that his experience in creating human orthotic devices could be adapted for animals.
‘I felt it was barbaric that in the 20th century we were still amputating dogs’ legs,’ said Martin, who carried out the operation free of charge.
‘I thought we should be using the technology used for humans on our pets.
‘An animal is a much better patient than a human. They have drive, determination and they just won’t quit.
‘They don’t feel sorry for themselves.’
Since undergoing the pioneering surgery Naki’o can leap and bound with the best of them.
Christie is amazed at her pet’s motivation and joy for life.
‘He was always a happy dog, but now he’s much more confident,’ she said.
‘It’s great to see him interact with other dogs at the park and play without a care.
‘Naki’o can now not only chase after a ball with other dogs, but he can beat them to the catch!’
Orthopets is working to open clinics worldwide. As well as dogs, they have fitted cats, horses, llamas and a stork with state of the art prosthetics.