You might notice something just a little bit special about Naki’o. That’s right, he’s adorable. He also holds the title of the first dog in America, and perhaps even the world, to have four prosthetic paws.
Naki’o, a mix-breed from Nebraska in the U.S., had an awful start to life when he and his brothers and sisters were left in an abandoned foreclosed house. Found in the freezing cellar of the house, his mum already having died due to the icy conditions, Naki’o was malnourished, had mange and his paws had frozen inside a pool of water.
Naki’o was taken to an animal rescue center but, due to severe frostbite, had to have his paws and part of his tail amputated. But Naki’o didn’t have to wait long for a home. Christie Pace, a veterinary assistant living in Colorado Springs, adopted him when he was 8 weeks old.
“I have a soft spot for rescue animals in general,” she told ABC. “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.”
While still a puppy, Naki’o’s missing paws didn’t bother him much as he was able to use his stumps.
However, as Naki’o grew older and heavier, his increasing weight meant he could no longer get around pain free. Pace had to either carry Naki’o or pull him along on a small wagon. This meant playing, even on soft ground, was difficult.
A solution presented itself when Pace saw another dog sporting a prosthetic knee-brace at the clinic where she works. Pace decided to put together a fundraiser in order to pay for Naki’o to have a couple of prosthetic limbs fitted and improve the quality of his life.
Prosthetics like these can cost up to $3,000 each, but Pace managed to raise enough money to buy two back legs for Naki’o and asked prosthetics firm OrthoPets to design and engineer them. Denver-based OrthoPets is an industry leader in the design and manufacture of mobility solutions for animals requiring prosthetic limbs, and they reportedly knew straight away that, once Naki’o had fully healed from his surgeries, he would be a good candidate for prosthetics.
Martin Kaufmann, founder of OrthoPets, duly created and fitted the limbs. Naki’o began using them and relatively quickly adapted to his new paws. However, having only his back legs functioning meant he had to resort to pushing himself around and still had trouble using his front stumps. That’s when Kaufmann decided he would fashion Naki’o two front braces, and this time for free.
“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,” he’s quoted as saying.
Now, Naki’o is able to run and frolic in the park without trouble. In fact, Christie told IncredibleFeatures.com in a 2011 interview that, “Naki’o can now not only chase after a ball with other dogs, but he can beat them to the catch!”
Want proof? Below is a video of Naki’o doing what he does best — playing!
OrthoPets regularly updates its Facebook wall with pictures and videos of the animals they are helping, so click here if you want to read and see more about their amazing work.
If you’re thinking there’s something familiar about this story, it could be you have heard it before. It was originally reported in 2011 just after Naki’o received his prosthetics, but several news services and online media sites have picked up the story again in recent days after Naki’o was spotted in April looking the picture of health while out for a run near his home in Colorado Springs.
Image credit: Image taken from video under fair use terms.