Lee Barwood

Paranormal, Mystery, and Environmental Fiction

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The Beat of Gaia's Heart

The Two Faces of Humanity

June 26, 2011

Tags: foreclosure, abandon, pet, dog, bionic, prosthesis, prosthetic paws, Christie Tomlinson, SPCA, frostbite, puppy, rescue

I’ve written before about people who abandon their pets when their homes are foreclosed. They just walk away, often locking the pets in the house, knowing on some level that they’re sentencing them to a slow and painful death but not caring enough to do anything about it, even to make a quick trip to a shelter.

But a clearer example of the difference between humans so ignorant of their pets’ lives that they would leave them to die without a thought, and those who fight not just to save them but to give them better lives, would be hard to find than the story of Naki’o.

You may have seen him on the news by now. Naki’o has four prosthetic paws. What you may not know is how he came to have them. He was born a healthy, normal red heeler puppy to a mother left, with her pups, to die in an abandoned, foreclosed home in Nebraska.

Naki’o’s mother died. Her pups were a bit more fortunate, and survived to be rescued at five weeks old. But Naki’o had the misfortune to step into a freezing puddle in the basement of the house where he and his family had been left to fend for themselves. His feet froze into the puddle and by the time rescuers found them, the puppy’s feet were casualties of frostbite and he was left with stumps.

The stumps were painful to walk on, so Naki’o learned to crawl on his belly rather than put his weight on them. But when veterinary technician Christie Tomlinson was looking for a playmate for her Jack Russell terrier mix Poki, somehow Naki’o seemed the natural choice, despite his handicap.

Christie saw in the young dog’s predicament a problem to be solved. She organized a fundraiser to pay for a pair of prosthetics for his back legs, so that it would be easier for Naki’o to get around. Well, that was all the encouragement Naki’o needed. He was such a success story getting around on his bionic hind legs that the company that made them, Orthopets, stepped up and said they’d do his front legs for free.

So now Naki’o has a full set of bionic legs – the first time Orthopets has done all four limbs for an animal. He runs and jumps, beats other dogs to the ball, and demonstrates his enjoyment for life with every bounding step. Christie and Orthopets have given him back his life, and his joie de vivre.

There’s a video here:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/06/22/bionic-dog-prosthetic-paws-video_n_882448.html

Food for thought. Naki’o’s first “family” didn’t care if he lived or died. His second family gave him a second chance and worked hard to make his life easier.

If only more of us were like Christie Tomlinson….

Selected Works

Horror
Love and death tread the boards at a haunted Victorian theater
Love can survive death -- but so can hate. The two collide in this haunted Ozarks tale of betrayal and heroism -- on both sides of the grave.
Folklore/Juvenile
Australian wildlife images to stimulate creativity in children and adults alike
Vintage wildlife photos illustrate a children's story about koalas
Retellings of eight Australian Aboriginal tales, mostly focusing on the koala -- a powerful figure in Aboriginal lore
Fantasy
Gryphon Award-winning ecological fantasy novel, now available from Double Dragon Publishing (February 2006)
Volume I of The Ribbons of Power, this was Honor Book Award winner in Andre Norton's Gryphon Award competition
Volume II of The Ribbons of Power
Mystery
A professor is murdered. Can the plot be unraveled?

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