Prosthetics help paralyzed dog take first walk

Specialists at Westcoast Brace & Limb (WCBL) are used to helping people; infants in need of cranial braces, children with mobility issues, adults who’ve had limbs amputated, and veterans returning from war have all been helped by the talented and dedicated prosthetists at the Tampa, Florida orthotics and prosthetics company.

Before he got braces, Spencer would drag his hind legs on the ground, causing injury to his rear legs.

But sometimes WCBL is called on to lend a hand to a furry friend in need. Spencer was one such special canine case.

Spencer, a 2-year-old English Bulldog, is paralyzed. Owner Linda Heinz found Spencer abandoned on their doorstep, unable to use his back legs. A visit to the veterinarian confirmed that, due to a severe spinal cord injury, Spencer would likely never be able to regain mobility in his hind legs. The vet suspects that the Bulldog was likely dropped or possibly even stomped on when he was just a puppy.

Despite her dog’s paralysis, Heinz says that Spencer is a happy pup. “He doesn’t know any different,” she told ABC Action News. “He doesn’t know that he’s different from other dogs.”

Perhaps the only times that Spencer became aware of his disability was when he saw other dogs from his front window. The other dogs could take walks outside; poor Spencer, however, could not. To get around, Spencer had to drag his back legs behind him, which sometimes caused injuries to his paws.

Heinz says that Spencer desperately wanted to go on walks outside. “His whole life he’s spent at my feet, looking up and crying, like, ‘Pick me up! Pick me up! Take me here, take me there,” Heinz described.

“He wails, and wails, and wails because he wants to be outside,” she added.

“We’ll try it and see what happens,” Westcoast Brace & Limb certified prosthetist Jason Redd told Spencer’s family. “I approached it the exact same way as I would a human.”

Redd began by creating molds of Spencer’s back legs using a fiberglass wrap. He then used those molds to make specially-fitted braces that strap to Spencer’s legs. Redd says that he was determined to make an efficient and comfortable prosthesis for Spencer.

“Spencer wants to get around,” Redd said. “I’m going to help him get around as best he can.”

Children’s neon green Crocs complete the new ensemble and help to stabilize Spencer.

The first time Redd strapped on Spencer’s new braces and shoes, the Bulldog was walking in moments and then running up and down the WCBL clinic hallway much to the staff’s delight. But perhaps no one was happier to see Spencer’s triumph than Linda Heinz.

“Now he can explore and get into trouble like a normal dog,” Heinz said of Spencer. “He’s the happiest creature you’ll ever meet. He wakes up happy. He never has a bad moment.”

Since receiving his braces, Spencer was able to take his first walk alongside his brother — Heinz family pet pig Porkchop, who is blind.