June 23, 2011 -- Naki'o has the rambunctious spirit of most dogs -- he loves to run, jump and play fetch, but one thing is different about this red heeler cattle dog -- his four bionic paws. OrthoPets, a Denver company that specializes in pet prosthetics, outfitted Naki'o, who lost his paws to frostbite after he was abandoned in the Nebraska winter.
When Naki'o was adopted, his legs had healed to rounded stumps, making mobility a struggle. He had to crawl on his stomach to move, but he was determined.
"Even though he was hobbling, he was still just trying to enjoy life," said Martin Kaufmann, the founder of OrthoPets, who outfitted Naki'o with his new paws."Naki'o's personality was great."
And it was that spirit that captivated his owner, a veterinary technician, to adopt him form a shelter and raise money for him to get two prosthetics.
Two became four when Kaufmann heard about Naki'o's plight and completed the set, making him, Kaufmann said, the first dog in the world to have four prosthetic paws.
Veterinarian Marty Becker said prosthetics are becoming increasingly common on disabled pets.
One prosthetic can cost anywhere form $1,000 to $3,000.
"It's really heartwarming," said Becker. "Dogs just soldier on. They could be in incredible pain but still greet you with their tail wagging.
Naki'o can now play fetch to his heart's content and enjoy his newfound mobility.
Kaufmann said Naki'o's only challenge would be learning once again what the ground feels like to walk on -- and he has no doubt Naki'o's playful spirit will help him adjust to his new paws.
"We get to work with patients with drive and determination," he said. "They have a real willingness to thrive."