It wasn’t so long ago when Luke’s survival was a daily miracle.
But today, the rescued Great Dane not only has a new lease on life – he’s also equipped with an augmented leg, courtesy of world-renowned animal orthopedist Derrick Campana.
“He was putting a lot of weight on it, which was great, and I’m going to send a few extra spring feet down there with different variable resistances, so he can practice,” Campana said.
Campana, whose work has been featured on Animal Planet – last summer he traveled to Botswana and fitted an elephant with a leg brace – said he was inspired by Luke’s journey back to health.
The 6-year-old dog arrived at Noah’s Arks, a Ridgeland-based animal rescue facility, just before Thanksgiving.
Severely malnourished and fighting an aggressive infection after gnawing off his foot in an attempt to free himself from a tangled runner, Luke was 100 pounds underweight and developed severe heart and lung problems because of electrolyte loss.
Doctors removed his damaged leg in December, and have been working toward crafting a prosthetic. Campana designed three versions, and Luke took to the final model and quickly regained his mobility.
“He did better than expected upon initial fitting. Since he’s a Great Dane, he has a nice long, lean leg, which made it easier,” Campana said. “He hasn’t used that leg for a while, so it takes some time to get used to it.”
Noah’s Arks CEO Jennifer Smith said on the group’s website that Luke has defied the odds through his journey, and traipsing across the grass with his new leg was an affirmation of his will to live.
“Our sweet boy has gone from being starved to death to jumping and running,” Smith wrote.
We then decided to take him outside on the Canine Grass to see how well he did on that. He was motivated by the treats but was still holding the prosthetic up way too much. I decided to throw the treats in the air to see if that got him to put his leg down. Suddenly, Luke was airborne, and he had used his new prosthetic to push himself off. We each cheered with excitement,” she wrote.
Campana said he was stirred by Luke’s outlook.
“When they overcome adversity, and come from such a situation of abuse, and you find people on the other end of the spectrum willing to help, it was just awesome. I thought it was an incredible story,” he said. “From looking at him on the first day (with his leg), I think he’s ahead of the curve and accepting the device.
Smith said Noah’s Arks has received more than 200 applications from people wanting to adopt Luke, and officials are screening candidates.