There’s a reason dogs are man’s best friend. Just like they’ll do anything to protect us, so too will we – or most of us, anyway – do what we can to ensure our canine companions live their best lives. So when one poor pup was found freezing to death in an abandoned house, a vet’s assistant made it her mission to do all she could to help him. But even she couldn’t have envisaged just what that would entail.
Naki’o the dog had a very tough start to his life. After their home in Nebraska was foreclosed on, his owners abandoned their mixed-breed puppy and his mother, leaving them to fend for themselves. And, when winter rolled around, their situation went from bad to worse.
Indeed, as the cold set in, Naki’o’s legs ended up being frozen into a puddle. And by the time he was discovered, the frostbite had claimed all four of his paws, along with the tip of the poor pup’s tail. Tragically, his mom had succumbed to the freezing climate.
Fortunately, however, Naki’o was found in time for vets to save his life, even if they couldn’t save his limbs. After rushing him to an animal rescue center, the vets nursed Naki’o back to as close to full health as possible, healing what was left of his limbs into rounded stumps.
Despite surviving this stressful ordeal, however, Naki’o’s quality of life left much to be desired. Indeed, the poor pup obviously couldn’t walk, and he found it difficult to play around with other fur balls, too. As a result of the tremendous pain his injuries caused him, he was forced to crawl on his abdomen.
But then, just when all hope seemed lost, Naki’o’s luck changed. That’s because he was introduced to Christie Pace, a veterinarian assistant who was in search of a rescue animal to help. And, thankfully, Naki’o’s plight spoke to her.
In 2011 Pace told ABC, “I have a soft spot for rescue animals in general [and] was looking for something different, unique. I wanted to make more of a difference than a regular dog [and] knew I could help him out.”
She wasted no time, then, in adopting the eight-week-old pooch. The only question that remained was how exactly she could help the poor pup in his current condition. After all, with no limbs, his situation seemed desperate.
After exploring a number of different strollers, Pace realized a more drastic solution was needed. Then, one day, she spotted a dog at her clinic who was using a knee brace from OrthoPets, a Denver-based company. In that moment, she had a brainwave. Indeed, if her plan was successful, she would be able to gift her beleaguered puppy with a new lease of life.
So, she got in touch with OrthoPets directly and set up a meeting with the company’s owners to see if they could do anything for Naki’o. As it turned out, they very much could… but it wouldn’t be cheap.
To that end, Pace quickly set up a fundraiser to pay for Naki’o’s unorthodox treatment. And with the money sorted, she could put her plan into action: giving her pup a pair of prosthetic legs.
With the rear prosthetics fitted, Naki’o was totally re-energized. In fact, he took to his new limbs so well that OrthoPets decided to go one step further. And its act of generosity would transform the pooch’s life even more.
“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,’” Martin Kaufmann, owner of OrthoPets, told ABC. “He could do much better with all four prosthetics on.”
Indeed, the company decided to give Naki’o two more prosthetic limbs, in place of his front legs, absolutely free of charge. And now, he’s become the first ever dog to have all four of his limbs replaced by prosthetics.
Of course, Naki’o took to his second pair of legs just as well as he did his first. While there was obviously a learning curve for the pup to master, it didn’t take long before he was running around and being as playful as any other pooch.
Indeed, when he first tried out his new limbs, Naki’o bounded off so quickly that he ended up snapping the hinges on his front legs. But after so long being unable to even walk, it’s probably no surprise that he was so excited. And he’s since become well-accustomed to his own strengths and limitations.
“Naki’o can now not only chase after a ball with other dogs, but he can beat them to the catch!” Pace told Mail Online in 2013. Indeed, she was clearly over the moon with Naki’o’s newfound mobility, all thanks to the prosthetics, which are intended to allow him as full a range of movement as his original limbs.
Animal prosthetics aren’t quite as uncommon as they once were, but they’re still incredibly expensive. In fact, the price for just one prosthetic limb ranges from $1,000 to $3,000.
And, in the years since Naki’o had his first set of prosthetic limbs fitted, he’s had them upgraded to match his growth. His current set should now be attuned enough to never need replacing.
When poor little Naki’o lay lost and frozen in that old abandoned house, he must have thought his time was up. Now, though, he’s almost a completely different dog: lent a new lease of (bionic) life by the generosity of both Pace and OrthoPets.