Veterinary assistant Christie Pace of Colorado Springs, Colorado fell in love and brought little Nakio home when he was just a puppy.
“I have a soft spot for rescue animals in general,” Pace tells ABC News. “I was looking for something different, unique. I wanted to make more of a difference than [with] a regular dog. I knew I could help him out,” she says of Nakio.
Pace says the story of her sweet dog’s origins is never very far from her mind. When he was just a puppy, Nakio was abandoned in a Nebraska home during the winter. By the time he was discovered, Nakio was alive, but was suffering from severe malnourishment and a bad case of mange. He’d also become frozen into a cold puddle in the basement of the home.
“His mom was dead in the house,” Pace explains. “He was the only one that was frozen into a puddle.”
Veterinarians were able to nurse Nakio back to health, but icy puddle had left the pup with devastating frostbite; Nakio would eventually lose the tip of his tail and all four of his paws as a result. An otherwise healthy puppy, Nakio was left with four rounded stubs for legs.
Pace says that when Nakio was just a small 8-week-old puppy, he could manage to get around by scooting across the floor or around the backyard like a worm. But as he grew larger and heavier, Nakio started having trouble. Walking upright on his legs caused too much pain. Hard surfaces were a definite challenge for the determined dog, and Pace had to either carry Nakio or pull him around in a wagon.
While brainstorming a more permanent solution for Nakio’s mobility issues, an idea came to Pace while she helped a dog with a knee brace at the clinic where she works — if she could only find a special kind of prosthetic for Nakio, perhaps he could learn to walk.
To help Nakio, Pace decided she would try and raise enough money for prosthetic limbs from OrthoPets, a veterinary hospital in Denver that specializes in creating fully-functioning prosthetics for animals. Each prosthesis would cost between $600 and $850, according to isciencetimes.com, but thanks to a successful fundraiser Pace was able to afford two of the four prosthetic paws.
After a successful surgery, Nakio was fitted with two “bionic” limbs on his hind legs.
The OrthoPets staff was so impressed with his progress they agreed to cover the cost of outfitting Nakio with his front leg prosthetics.
“When we saw how good he was going 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,” explains OrthoPets owner Martin Kaufmann. “He could do much better with all four prosthetics on.”
Each prosthesis is made of the same materials as artificial human limbs. Formed from polypropylene plastic, OrthoPets uses a waterproof foam material as padding for the limb so it sits comfortably on the animal’s body. To give Nakio a “no-slip” grip on even hard surfaces, the bottoms of his new paws are made of BMX bicycle tire tread.
Thanks to his new limbs, the “bionic dog” now has a new lease on life. Nakio can now walk and even run, or play fetch in his yard. With his prosthetics, Nakio is just like any other dog.
“His prosthesis changed his life and ours,” Pace writes on Facebook. “We could finally take him for a walk down the street! It was the little things that are usually taken for granted that we now enjoy together!”
Inspired by Nakio, Pace decided to start a rescue organization in his name. Nakio’s Underdog Rescue, established in 2011, focuses on helping pets with disabilities. For more information, check out the group’s Facebook page.