If you had told Cory and Veronica Brannon (pictured above) eight years ago that they’d be running a successful business selling braces for dogs, they would’ve been shocked.
At the time, real estate agent and insurance agent just wanted to help out their dog, Miles.
One morning, the couple found their 1-year-old dachshund-Yorkie mix hunched over and shaking. They hadn’t seen him fall or jump. They didn’t know what happened to the dog. They took him to the vet where the dog was diagnosed with a herniated disk.
The vet gave the couple some medication told them to keep Miles confined so his back could heal.
They felt bad for their dog. They began wondering if they could find some sort of brace for Miles. Something to keep his back supported while he got better. They started searching online, but couldn’t find anything.
“We started kind of putting pen to paper,” Cory said. “Why don’t we see if we can maybe make one.”
Miles healed before the couple came up with their final prototype. Working with a vet, they tested an early version on him and saw it made the dog more comfortable.
Despite the fact that Miles was better, the couple continued prototyping.
They’d already learned a lot about back injuries in dachshunds. They came across something called IVDD – Invertebral Disc Disease. Similar to what Miles had, IVDD affects the joints in the spine of small breed dogs including dachshunds, Pekingese, Beagles, Shi Tzu's, Corgis and Maltese's. It causes back pain, rear limb paralysis, and an inability for the dog to walk or feel their back legs, which can result in incontinence.
They thought they could help more dogs.
They did more research online. They looked at the braces humans used and considered about how they could apply that type of design to a brace for dogs. Vets offered them feedback– helping them figure out where to make the brace stronger and how to shape it correctly.
Finally, they came up with the final product– L'il Back Bracer.
The ergonomic brace alleviates pressure on the dog’s spine and is designed to stabilize the back from both above and below. It’s adjustable, easy to put on and take off and made with a medical-grade breathable fabric called “Breathe-o-Pene.” In addition to providing support for the dog’s back, its snug fit helps calm the nervous system. It comes in three sizes– small which fits dogs under 12 pounds, medium for dogs 12 to 22 pounds and large for dogs 22 to 32 pounds.
Pets can wear it as needed–when they’re going for a walk or playing or all the time.
Cory and Veronica spread the word about their new brace via Facebook and word of mouth. At first, they’d sell 10 braces a month and be excited about that. But word has spread among veterinarians and happy pet owners; now they sell thousands.
They recently had one client call for a new brace. Her dog had worn out after three years of constant use. The dog loved it.
“What our goal is now is for vets and rehab specialists to find out about us and get into clinics and hospitals,” Corey said.
Several years ago, Cory met Derrick Campana, CO, founder of Animal Ortho Care at a rehab conference. Over the years, they’ve kept in touch, referring clients back and forth. When Animal Ortho Care teamed with Caerus Corp., they added L'il Back Bracer to their growing animal rehab business.
Today, L'il Back Bracer is Cory’s full-time job. And he’s excited to expand their product line– offering braces for larger dogs with back issues. Trying to helps as many dogs as they can.
“It’s crazy. I never in a million years would’ve thought I’d be doing what I’m doing,” he said.