Many years ago, my yellow Lab, Lucy, injured her leg while jumping for her Frisbee. The vet said she had pulled a muscle. My lifelong philosophy has been to seek out alternative ways to cope with life’s surprises, so I took Lucy to a doggie chiropractor, who gave her an adjustment. Afterward, she needed rest, and favored the leg for several days. I wondered what I would do if the vet had recommended surgery. Would that have been my only option?
A few months ago, my husband and I visited the family cabin in Colorado. He wanted me to meet someone in the area who was doing something special for dogs: Daryllanne Franks, a woman with a mission.
Over the course of three conversations at her workplace, I learned that Daryllanne has invented a safe, custom-made support for your dog that is quick and easy to fit onto the recovering leg when surgery has been recommended. In fact, this product, the MuttKnee Brace, may make surgery unnecessary. I had to tell my Dogster community about her story.
When Daryllanne was eight years old, her grandmother taught her to sew using a foot pedal sewing machine. She made clothes for her Barbie and herself. Later, she sewed professionally and for her four children. In 2002, she was operating a financial public relations company out of her home in Littleton, Colorado. Business was down, times were tough, and worse, Muttley, the dog she shared with her companion and business partner, Jerry Thomas, tore her ACL, and the surgery to repair it was too expensive.
Daryllanne began thinking about humans who have similar injuries and how, while healing, they use an exterior support system. With that in mind, she went to sleep and woke up with the pattern idea that, after much trial and error, led to the current doggie brace.
After researching pre- and post-surgical aids for ACL injuries, she decided to use Neoprene, which is easy to work with, lightweight enough to be worn with comfort, and strong enough to last throughout the dog’s healing period. The next step was to measure her own dog, make a pattern, and sew up a healing, supportive brace. Muttley took to the brace immediately. She wore it constantly. After several months, her torn ACL healed.
Here’s a video showing how the knee brace works:
Daryllanne knew she was on to something good. Working alone in a 20-square-foot section of her cabin, she made braces for dogs of family members, relatives, and friends. Through Facebook, she reconnected with a high school friend who helped design the website.
Daryllanne and Jerry live in an almost-100-year-old cabin in Red Feather Lakes, a small, quaint village just North of Fort Collins, Colorado. As orders increased, her workspace began to overflow its boundaries, so she moved into the one building in town with space enough to suit her needs. Now she had room to expand her business and also have a coffee shop with WiFi. The increased orders also necessitated Daryllanne’s hiring several other women to help with the sewing.
Daryllanne makes each pattern from the information provided by her clients. She has had very favorable responses from veterinarians, who have seen the results of the MuttKnee Brace. Considering that less than 80 percent of the surgeries performed on dogs who have these injuries are successful, her brace offers hope and gentle, yet firm, support. To date, she has helped people in over 39 countries, with dogs ranging from four to 228 pounds.
Daryllanne says her goal is to prevent unnecessary surgery and to improve the quality of life for dogs. She donates $5 from each brace sold to several local and national animal rescue organizations. Just knowing about this nonsurgical option for a typical canine injury gives me hope and gratitude for the talent, care, and love for our fur babies that brought about this nifty device.
About the author: Beverly Coleman, who holds degrees in homeopathy and education, is an all-out dog lover, massage therapist, musician, freelance writer, graphic artist, and web video producer residing in a suburb of Chicago.