A black puppy with white markings melted hearts Thursday morning at Denver Animal Shelter while he scampered around without a care in the world.
The playful pup — Rex, named for his T. Rex-like posture — was born with a congenital deformity that stopped his front legs just below the joint.
The border collie mix hops around on his hind legs, but not for much longer. Thanks to generous donations, the Aurora pup will soon be able to run, play and chase to his little heart’s content.
Eddie’s Wheels for Pets spent four weeks engineering a special $500 cart for Rex to act as his front legs and improve his mobility and quality of life.
With or without the device, Rex is a joyous pooch.
“He has no idea he’s different,” said Cameron Schumacher, Rex’s dad-to-be.
The pup without front paws was surrendered to the Denver Animal Shelter in early November. His first family couldn’t give the roughly year-old dog the care he needed.
Schumacher is fostering Rex through the shelter’s foster-to-adopt program, which ensures quality adoptions and increased pet retention.
Schumacher already has two other pups — Pickle, a Scottish Terrier mix, and Cholula, a Westie mix — who were very “standoffish” and “suspicious” when Rex arrived at the family’s home about a month ago. Rex’s movements — he mainly walks on his hind legs while wiggling his front legs in the air — can be alarming to other dogs.
“They’ve learned all his little mannerisms,” Schumacher said, adding that it took only a few days for Pickle and Cholula to fall in love with Rex.
Rex seemed a bit suspicious of his new hardware at first. But he quickly warmed up to it when he realized treats were involved, including his absolute favorite — hot dogs. “Treats make everything easier,” Schumacher said.
There’s a large learning curve with his new equipment, so Rex spends only about 10 minutes fastened to it at a time, two or three times per day, as he gets used to it. Rex, who has plenty of energy around the house, tires easily when he encounters a big backyard or a dog park.
His new cart, which he has had for about two weeks, will help him zoom around once he gets used to putting his weight forward and pushing off with his hind legs.
“I can actually tell his core is getting stronger,” said Dr. Louisa Poon, the shelter’s chief of veterinary services. “He’s very motivated.”
She said once the pooch’s growth plates are fully developed — at roughly 2 years old — he will be considered for surgically implanted prosthetics, which cost $1,000 to $1,500 per leg.
“It really takes a special somebody to adopt a case like this,” said Poon, who has worked with four similar cases. Dogs with special needs require a bigger commitment.
“I think there’s always a dog for every person,” she said, “regardless of whether they’re special needs or completely healthy.”