They almost never got the chance to find love, but no bones about it, Carbon, Krypton, and Cobalt are three of the sweetest pups you’ll ever meet.
When these three were rescued in Georgia, their foster family despaired what their outcome would be. All three of them had the strangest thing going on with their front legs. All they could do was hope they would grow out of it.
When they reached 7 weeks old, they still couldn’t walk, sit, or run normally. They couldn’t even stand up straight, and walked around on their elbows. It was apparent to Margie (our GA rescue partner and an amazing woman who runs Old Fella Burke County Pet Rescue) that it was time for a visit to the vet.
X-rays immediately revealed what was wrong – they were born without carpal bones in their front legs. The carpal bones comprise the upper part of the foot in dogs and are comparable to the wrist in people. As you can probably guess, without these bones, their front legs could not hold them up.
Margie despaired what the outcome would be. So many “normal” dogs never get the chance to find homes in Burke County Georgia. How were they going to find homes for puppies like these? Margie would soon have to make one of the most difficult decisions any rescuer has to make. Without a chance for a normal life with an adoptive family, these energetic and happy puppies might have to be euthanized.
Margie shared her story with Jane, NEAS’ canine intake coordinator. Old Fella sends hundreds of wonderful dogs to NEAS, so Margie and Jane talk on an almost daily basis. When Margie mentioned the tough decision she was going to have to make about Carbon, Krypton, and Cobalt, Jane asked her to wait. She knew NEAS would want to consider all possibilities before running out of choices.
Jane got a veterinarian specialist involved, but the vet wanted to examine the puppies before giving us false hope. Jane asked Margie to send the “Bones Bunch” to NEAS on the next trip. They have now arrived, and the vet says surgery will likely help.
The surgery is called pancarpal arthrodesis, a surgery to fuse the joint. During the operation, the cartilage surrounding the carpal/metacarpal bones will be stripped. Then bone foam and grafts are applied to help the body fill in more bone tissue to seal the joint. A metal plate and screws are attached to the other bones, and these must be placed in a specific manner to make sure that the bones are held rigidly in place as they heal. Any movement during the recovery process could cause bony calluses or delay healing.
Each puppy will require two operations. One leg will be allowed to heal before operating on the other leg. These pups have a long journey ahead of them, but the vet is optimistic that when everything is healed, they will be able to walk. Their front legs will likely by a bit shorter than normal, and their ankles won’t flex so they will have a peculiar gait, but these happy puppies love life so much that we expect they won’t let frozen ankles get in their way. It certainly beats walking on elbows!
As you might expect, 6 surgeries (2 for each puppy) is going to be expensive. The surgery will be done at a specialized veterinary hospital, and will cost $20,000.
Will you help Carbon, Krypton, and Cobalt stand tall?
Surgery has been scheduled for two of the pups for next week. They will fuse one leg and wear a splint on the other during the first recovery. In 4-6 weeks, their second surgery will be scheduled. For the third pup, because some damage has already happened in his bone structure, he’ll need a follow up x-ray next week to determine when he’ll be ready for surgery.
We just dropped off Carbon and Cobalt for their first surgery. Everyone fell in love with them immediately and promised to take the best care of them. Krypton will be going to the vet next week for a follow up x-ray to determine when the best time for him will be to get his surgeries started.
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Carbon and Cobalt are out of surgery, and everything looks good. Their X-rays look great. Both pups are now in foster care. They will need to take 4 pills a day for pain and inflammation, and be kept confined, preferably in their crate. That is going to be hard for them, but their bones need time to heal. The vet noticed that Cobalt’s flexor tendons are too short, making his toes curl. He will need physical therapy to stretch the tendons when the splint comes off.
Krypton will be heading in for his follow up x-rays on June 1 to determine when he will be ready for surgery.
Krypton had his X-rays and the vet says everything looks good enough to operate next week. Whatever she saw in the growth plates last time looks better, so his surgery is scheduled for June 9. Carbon and Cobalt will visit the vet on the same day to have their sutures removed.
Below are pictures of Carbon and Cobalt showing off the airplane and cars that the staff at the animal hospital drew on their casts.
Great news! Carbon and Cobalt had their sutures removed and both puppies are healing well. Carbon hasn’t quite figured out how best to walk with his cast and stiff leg, but Cobalt is actually walking pretty good even with his cast! Their exercise must continue to be restricted. No running, playing, or interacting with other dogs. X-rays will be retaken in 2 weeks.
And another bit of good news – Krypton had his surgery, with no complications. The picture shows Krypton at the vet prior to surgery. As you can see, Krypton is making the best of his situation, but he’ll be so much better when his legs are fixed.
Carbon and Cobalt are healing well from their first surgery and will be going in for surgery on their other leg on Aug 4th. Krypton is still healing from his first surgery and doing well. There is a concern that his growth plates closed early and he may need follow up care with his elbows. We will continue to monitor this. His second surgery is planned for Aug 13th.
All three pups are happy and healthy. They are all still in foster homes and their foster families rave about how smart they are. Each is housebroken and working on typical puppy habits like chewing and basic manners.
Carbon and Cobalt are still in foster homes, and Carbon’s foster family has decided to adopt him. Krypton returned to the shelter from foster care last week, and we are giving him water therapy. Of the three pups, Krypton is having the most difficulty. Walking on his right front leg is painful, but we do see some improvement. He is still on pain medication, and this might be necessary for the rest of his life.