Cupid progressing well on prosthetics

TORONTO – 

Slow and steady wins the race.

So is the case for Cupid, the little great pyrenees pup that was born with partial front legs and left in the trash to die. Thanks to the work done by Dog Rescuers and PawsAbility, Cupid has a future — he’s been fitted with prosthetic devices and should one day have more mobility.

But it’s a long, slow process.

Janice Olynich at PawsAbility is the person who will oversee Cupid’s prosthetic care, and she wants to remind people that this will be an ongoing situation for the canine.

“It doesn’t happen quickly,” she said.

Cupid’s progress has been slow over the last few weeks, which is to be expected.

“He is scooting forward in his little skis,” said Olynich. “But his instinct is still to throw back those front legs, which he did to go forward on his belly, and so we have to retrain his urge to push them back.”

She noted she has to increase his physical capacity and strengthen the muscles surrounding his shoulders.

Cupid is likely to be a big dog and hence, heavy. As well, he’s dealing with prosthetic devices that are lengthier than most dogs using such devices have to manage. Building his muscle strength is crucial.

To that end, Cupid has been doing some swimming therapy. As Olynich says, dogs tend to paddle instinctively with their front legs, and that should help increase Cupid’s strength and range of motion in those stunted forelimbs.

He swims in a little life jacket.

People keen to help Cupid have contributed every conceivable size of flotation device for his swimming escapades. Others are contributing to the cost of his prosthetic devices and one person has even offered 3D printing services.

“Cupid needs to learn how to stand and balance on his prosthetic devices when he’s not in his skis,” Olynich explained. “That’s difficult now, because the legs are narrow at the bottom to fit into those skis.”

The first 3D printed parts will fit over the bottom of the legs that he has now, and will have two small platforms with treads underneath. “They’ll still look a bit like the skis,” she said, “but it’s a next step toward independent prosthetic legs.”

Going forward, the 3D printing assistance may allow Olynich to test the design of different base parts — or ‘feet’ — to attach to Cupid’s prosthetic sockets, the parts that hold on to his limbs.

As for the little dog’s future, Olynich thinks it will be bright.

“He’s still so young and he is still growing. I’m hopeful for him, for sure,” she said.

“Whatever mobility he ends up having, he can still have a great quality of life. He’s a sweet, happy pup who has a good team of people trying to make his life the best it can be.”

lbraun@postmedia.com

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