Naki’o was not even 5 weeks old when he and his littermates were abandoned by a family fleeing their foreclosed home in Nebraska, incrediblefeatures.com reports. Having barely survived the harsh winter and weakened by malnourishment, the Australian Cattle Dog puppy stepped into an icy puddle in the home’s basement and got his four paws stuck in freezing water.
Neighbors rescued the pups and took them to an animal rescue center. Under the shelter’s care, Naki’o’s paws, lost to severe frostbite, healed to rounded stumps.
Enter veterinary technician Christie Tomlinson, who had been on the lookout for a playmate for her Golden Retriever when she came across Naki’o at a Colorado shelter.
“I’ve always had a soft spot for animals with problems,” Tomlinson told incrediblefeatures.com. “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 paw-less legs without too much difficulty. But as Naki’o grew and gained weight, it became painful for him to walk.
“I felt so bad for him as his condition worsened,” Tomlinson says. “He is such a hyper and happy dog, and 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.”
Then Tomlinson heard about Orthopets, a company that designs prosthetics for animals, and held a fundraiser to pay for Naki’o to have his two back legs fitted with prosthetic devices.
Naki’o took to the two prosthetics so well that Orthopets decided to complete the process for free. It was the first time the company had fitted an animal with a complete set of new legs, and for Orthopets founder Martin Kaufmann, it was a satisfying challenge.
“We wanted Naki’o to enjoy his life to the fullest,” Kaufmann says. “We wanted him to run as fast as he could, to be able to hold a bone to chew. This breed of dog needs to run, jump and hike big mountains. I knew having the best quality of life possible would also prolong his life greatly.”
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.
Tomlinson is thrilled with the result. “He was always a happy dog, but now he’s much more confident and it’s great to see him interact with other dogs at the dog park and play without a care,” she says. “Naki’o can now not only chase after a ball with other dogs, but he can beat them to the catch!”
See Naki’o in action! Watch the video>>