Naki’o’s story is devastating: The pup and his littermates were found in the icy cellar of a foreclosed, abandoned home. Their mother was in the house, dead. Naki’o was standing in a puddle — frozen into the puddle, actually. All four feet and the tip of his tail.
The pups were discovered and taken to animal control for care. Naki’o got the worst of it: He lost his toes, part of his nose, and the tip of his tail to frostbite. His feet eventually healed into rounded stumps, but it was no happy life for Naki’o as he grew up and gained weight. He couldn’t play well with other dogs. He could barely run because of the pain. He often made his way by crawling along his belly.
Then he crossed paths with veterinarian assistant Christie Pace of Colorado Springs, CO, and Naki’o’s bad times were at an end. Pace adopted Naki’o when the dog was 8 weeks old, and she looked for ways to help him.
“I have a soft spot for rescue animals in general,” she said. “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 organized a fundraiser to have prosthetics made for Naki’o’s two back legs, and soon the dog was being fitted. When the company who made them, Ortho Pets, saw how well Naki’o took to the devices, it did the unexpected.
“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,'” said Martin Kaufmann, owner of the Denver company, which specializes in pet prosthetics. “He could do much better with all four prosthetics on.”
And Ortho came through, giving Naki’o a pair of front paws. Now Naki’o is nearly bionic, bounding around on his four prosthetic feet. He has learned quickly. He was running within a few days. Now he plays like any dog.
“To see Naki’o take over with four legs like this,” said veterinarian Patsy Mich of Ortho Pets, “how could I not like my job?”
“He was always a happy dog, I just wanted him to be ‘more normal,’ so to speak,” said Pace. “Naki’o can now not only chase after a ball with other dogs, but he can beat them to the catch!”
Pace founded and is president of Nakio’s Underdog Rescue, whose mission is to to rescue dogs and cats with disabilities and find loving homes for them. Naki’o is, of course, the official spokesdog.
Watch this super-dog move:
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