The bionic dog: Mixed-breed Naki’o lost his paws to frostbite but can finally walk again after being fitted with four prosthetic limbs
A mixed-breed puppy had a tough start to live after losing all four of his paws and the tip of his tail to frostbite.
Naki’o was left abandoned at a foreclosed Nebraska home when he was a young and was found alone, frozen into a puddle of icy water in the cellar.
When he was eventually discovered, he was taken to an animal rescue center and under their care his paws healed to rounded stumps.
It was a tough existence for Naki’o, he couldn’t walk and play with other dogs due to the pain it caused him and instead had to crawl along on his belly.
Fortunately for Naki'o he meet veterinarian assistant Christie Pace of Colorado Springs, Colo. who was looking for an animal she could help.
‘I have a soft spot for rescue animals in general. I was looking for something different, unique. I wanted to make more of a difference than a regular dog. I knew I could help him out,’ she told ABC.
She adopted Naki’o when he was 8-weeks-old and then set about organizing a fundraiser to pay for him to have his two back legs fitted with prosthetics.
He took to these so enthusiastically, that the company who fitted them decided to complete the process free of charge.
‘When we saw how good he was doing with his back leg prosthetics and how he was struggling to use his front legs it was very simple to say, “we gotta keep with him.” He could do much better with all four prosthetics on,’ said Martin Kaufmann, owner of Orthopets, a Denver company that specializes in pet prosthetics.
Naki'o is the first dog to be fitted with a complete set of bionic paws that work naturally to allow him to run, jump and even swim.
At first walking on all four prosthetics was challenging, but Naki’o adapted quickly, learning how to use the devices as though they were his natural legs.
After just a few days he was running and bounding along. The prosthetics are built to mimic the muscle and bone of dog limbs, allowing them to do everything a normal dog would do.
Christie is amazed at her pet’s motivation and joy for life. 'Naki’o can now not only chase after a ball with other dogs, but he can beat them to the catch!'
In recent years, veterinarian medicine has advanced by leaps – with not just braces and prosthetics, but also implants - metal rods fused to the animals' own bone and then attached to an artificial paw.
One prosthetic can however cost anywhere from $1,000 to $3,000.