Dog requires special shoes to help her walk normally

A 2-year-old peekapoo with detached front carpal joints wears an orthotic shoe on one front paw to enable the dog to walk without pain. Because of her waddling gait, employees at Orchard Mesa Veterinary Hospital named the dog Duck. The clinic has spent $4,000 to $5,000 to improve Duck’s quality of life.

The frail dog shook nervously, but her big brown eyes and restless tail wagging seemed to indicate a different mood.

But that’s not what stood out about the pint-sized, cream-colored peekapoo.

It was the shoes.

Duck, who is a mix between a French poodle and a Pekingese, is much happier these days now that employees at Orchard Mesa Veterinary Hospital, 2668 U.S. Highway 50, have gone to great lengths to increase her quality of life.

“She looks good, huh?” said Lori Kapushion, a certified veterinarian technician, while freeing the dog from her cage, cradling her.

The 2-year-old dog was underweight and feverish when her owner brought her in for vaccinations earlier this year. The owner ultimately relinquished the dog to the veterinary hospital, possibly after realizing its laundry list of ailments.

The then-scrawny pup had detached front carpal joints, meaning it was essentially walking on its wrists. Her back knees also were injured, a problem that veterinarian Nancy Hugenberg fixed through surgery.

Because of her waddle, employees named the dainty dog Duck.

To fix the joint problem, Duck was outfitted in July with orthotic shoes on her front paws, which look like an open boot with straps. After the surgery and the shoes, Duck started to act more like a dog. Instead of lying around in the grass while Kapushion does yard work at home, Duck is now playful, seemingly happy to move around without pain.

“She is so empowered with her shoes,” Kapushion said. “She loves other little dogs. She tries to keep up with them.”

Kapushion traveled three times to Denver, one time with Hugenberg to get Duck outfitted with the orthotic shoes. The clinic has spent $4,000 to $5,000 for a specialist, surgeries, special shoes, medications and travel costs, Kapushion estimated.

A donation jar at the front counter of the clinic tells Duck’s story. Between that and other fundraisers, the clinic has raised an estimated $850 to help recoup those costs. Even the makers of Science Diet donated prescription dog food specially made for canine joints.

Duck lives at the vet hospital during the day and goes home with Kapushion at night. Kapushion said the hospital is seeking a new owner to adopt Duck, preferably someone who is home most of the day and can provide the care she needs.

“She’s definitely worth it. Maybe she’s not a normal dog at this point,” Kapushion said, looking lovingly at the pooch. “At this point she’s feeling more joy. She’s happier.”

During a visit one day last week, Duck had been washed and groomed, sporting lipstick-red toenails and dolled up with bows behind her ears.

The shoes didn’t match the outfit, but Duck didn’t seem to care about not appearing fashionable.

Kapushion recently had to send in one of Duck’s shoes to be repaired because it was rubbing a sore on the dog. Kapushion sent the shoe overnight to Denver so it could be returned as soon as possible.

“She has actually gotten a lot of confidence,” Kapushion said of Duck’s new lease on life. “She’s getting to be a more normal dog, but she’ll probably always wear shoes.”

To donate to Duck’s cause or to be considered to adopt her, call the Orchard Mesa Veterinary Hospital at 241-9866.


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