Background on Loki:
Loki is a German Short-Haired Pointer that recently turned 5 years old in October 2021. He has been a hunting dog his entire life and loves to show off his tracking and retrieving skills. He had to have a below-the-elbow amputation so his owner, Tanner, with the help of his parents, Trent, Robin, ordered him a Partial Limb Prosthetic to get him back in motion. They are a family determined to ensure that other pet families know all the options currently available for their beloved pet and they hope other families can experience “what we have on the good side” of an otherwise upsetting situation so their dog can have a normal life again.
Tell us about Loki and what he likes to do for fun?
Tanner: He loves the outdoors, he likes to run, and his most favorite thing I would say is birds. He likes chasing them, he likes watching them on tv, he likes looking at the mounted ducks in the house. Anything to do with birds and hunting. Immediately from such a young age (12 weeks old) it was constantly nose on the ground working to find the birds and ever since then it's just non-stop. He loves the bird more than anything else. We’ll be sitting there with him dead asleep and we’ll say “bird, bird” and he gets up and starts running around and stares at the duck mounts on the wall and goes absolutely crazy. I have been around a lot of dogs in my life, house dogs, hunting dogs, working dogs, and people would brag about their dogs all the time. I tell this story to people all the time, I've never seen such an intelligent dog or seen a dog that loves hunting to the point where he will sit in the living room and watch hunting videos and when they shoot a bird out of the sky on the tv he will run up to the tv trying to pick the bird up.
Tell us about Loki's condition and what happened?
Trent: For probably 6 months before his surgery we took him to the Vet since he had a like a sore that he kept licking so we took him because he was losing hair and it was a little bloody looking. They diagnosed him originally with lick granuloma, an injury to the skin caused by obsessive licking, so they gave us some medicine and he got better. The hair grew back and he quit liking it. Of course, with the hair on it we couldn't tell that it was getting larger because you couldn't see it as much. We did 3 rounds of antibiotics and went on vacation in June of 2021. The Vet said they could laser it off to remove it and Loki would have to go every day for a week to have it lasered off. We said “Well great, we’ll be on vacation, y’all do that while we are gone.” They called us while we were gone and said that before we can laser we need to send it off first to make sure it's not cancer because if it is cancer then the laser will cause it to spread. So we got the phone call while we were on vacation that it came back that it was cancer.
What was your vet's initial treatment option and what did you and your family do to help the situation?
Robin: So we immediately went back from vacation and immediately scheduled the surgery within a week to have the cancerous tumor removed. This was July 15th and Loki went through a 4 hour surgery to remove the tumor from his leg. We picked him up the next day with a number of medications and antibiotics in hopes that it would improve. We took him every single day for 7 weeks to have his bandage changed. About 2-3 weeks to the end of the process, the tumor was wrapped around the tendons in his leg. It damaged the tendons and nerves so he actually lost use of his paw so the recommendation was to have his leg amputated at his shoulder.
Tanner: When we first figured out that we were going to go with the amputation route, my dad gave me a call and said “Hey, we think we're going to have to have the leg amputated and the doctors recommend that we do it at the shoulder” and I was like “Hold on one second, let's not jump ahead, let's look and do some research.” Immediately, I started Googling pet prosthetics.
How was Loki throughout his treatment before receiving his prosthetic?
Robin: Loki went through a really rough time for 7 weeks with the paw that he didn't have use of. We were changing the bandages every day, taking him to the vet every day, he was very limited on his activities and he is an active dog. Once Tanner and Trent made the decision to go the prosthetics route and how we needed to go about that process, we followed up with the vet. They did his second surgery which was another 2-3 hour surgery on September 2nd where they removed his leg. We picked him up on the 3rd and in two weeks he was healing well. The vet was very impressed with his progress and, of course, once that healed fully we reached out to Animal Ortho Care.
Tanner: I think it's also important to note that during the time after that first surgery it was a big bandage that had to be drained. You could just tell by Loki's demeanor that he just wasn't himself during that time. Once the paw was amputated, he healed up fairly quickly and he was almost immediately back to his normal self.
How did you hear about Animal Ortho Care?
Tanner: I got on Youtube and some of Animal Ortho Care's videos were first to pop up. I sent them to my dad and said “Look at this, check this out” and he was like “This is something we can look into.” We had a thorough conversation about it and decided that this is a good idea to go with. We talked to the vet and told them that we don't want to go with the full shoulder amputation, we want to go with the opportunity at a prosthetic and having a more normal life.
Why did you choose Animal Ortho Care to go with for a Partial Limb Prosthetic?
Trent: In the video Tanner sent me, we realized something we hadn't thought about for a three legend dog which was how much toll it would take on his good leg. That he would be hopping all the time.
Tanner: In the long term, Loki's relatively young and he's an extremely active dog so being on three legs for the remainder of his life couldn't be good on the remaining leg. That’s another reason we started looking for pet prosthetics too. I'm an engineer so my brain is constantly like “Give me a problem and what's the solution” and I'm fairly involved in new technology. We have 3D printer at the lab here, and with amputating Loki’s leg I was like I'm going to try to make him a prosthetic. It was the first thought in my mind but I was like there’s probably somebody out there that makes these specialized for dogs and that would be better than me trying to do it myself. Loki is my best friend, we hunt together, if I go walking in the woods then he goes with me. The thought of losing your best friend is hard so y’all giving him the possibility of giving that back to me and my family is amazing.
Trent: Surprisingly, one of the first things people say when they see Loki’s prosthetic is “I bet that was expensive.” You can't really put a price on having for your pet, but honestly I would not consider what we paid for y’alls expertise and support to be expensive.
How did Loki take to the prosthetic when he first got it on?
Robin: In the first week of having the prosthetic, Loki has done very well. We put it on him every single day, of course we rotate out based on your instructions, and he doesn't seem to mind it at all. He doesn't try to naw it, lick it, or eat anything on it.
Trent: When he first put it on, he went in the backyard he was like “What is this? It’s in my way and it needs to go.” It was like putting shoes on, he wouldn't move, but that was the first time. The first day he wore it for 30 minutes, the second day was an hour and we walked him around the neighborhood for 15 minutes. After that, it was like he was back to having a normal leg which he hadn't had since July 15th, which is a long time to be without his normal leg and it was like normal for him again. We’re very careful putting his prosthetic on, it's almost a two person process to put it on. When you put his leg in and before you can strap it, he has a tendency to pull his leg back out so what we do is one person has the prosthetic and one person puts pressure off his good leg so all the weight goes down into the prosthetic, it's a really silly process for now until he gets used to it more. Everybody that sees him walking everyday in our neighborhood is amazed, they just can't believe that we have a dog with a prosthetic leg.
How has life been for Loki with the prosthetic? Is he doing the same activities he was doing before?
Robin: He plays with his toys, he runs around the house, and let me tell you something about Loki that's not every dog: he has 24 hour care. He is never left alone, I’m always here with him so I've been able to go through this entire process with him and not leave him once.
Trent: We take him walking everyday for 15-25 minutes and of course he couldn't do that before.
Robin: He can use the bathroom better too.
Trent: He is a male dog so he lost his ability to hold his leg up because he couldn't stand on two legs. He adapted well and would go to whatever he was using the bathroom on and prop his body on it, but that is back to normal now and he is putting weight on his leg just like he has his normal leg and everything.
Robin: And actually when he poops it's better now because he can stand and not look like he's about to fall over.
Trent: It’s the small things that you realize he can do more that he didn't have to think about.
Do you plan on taking Loki hunting again?
Tanner: Right now, we are still trying to figure out if he's going to be capable of duck hunting. We are thinking about ideas of getting a life vest or something, but dove hunting in a field for 100% he will go back.
Trent: I originally said he probably wouldn't be able to hunt this year but I think I've changed my mind. He probably will hunt with us on one of our smaller hunts just to see how he does and well probably base future hunting trips on that. We don't want to put too much on him at one time because we can tell Loki's endurance is down, which is normal since he hasn't gotten out to run like he used to. Now having this leg and walking him everyday he's starting to get back to his normal activity self.