MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Harper the dog may have lost one of her legs to a painful injury, but she gained much more, thanks to some loving friends and a veterinarian who wouldn’t give up.
Dr. Amanda Jondle, an associate veterinarian at PetVax, said Harper, a one-year-old German shepherd, is always ready to make new friends.
“She is such a sweetheart. She loves people, she loves other dogs, she’s not aggressive whatsoever,” Jondle said.
But the two met when Harper was at her worst.
When her former owner brought her to PetVax over the summer, Harper had no foot. Her bone was sticking out — covered in maggots and infections.
“Her check-in said to check her right hind foot and I could smell her before I went into the room,” Jondle said. “She was very sick, very weak, in critical condition.”
Jondle says Harper’s owner told her she disappeared for a week and got hurt, but they had no idea exactly how.
Regardless, Jondle knew surgery and major medical care was needed.
Her owner wasn’t willing or able to help, so they surrendered Harper to Jondle, who agreed to foster the dog.
Harper was hospitalized for two weeks as Jondle called surgeons around the country to get an idea of how to move forward.
She ultimately decided an amputation and prosthetic leg was best.
“I called all the dog prosthetic companies I could find and did a bunch of research all over the country and some even out of the country, and nobody would really help.”
They said the injury location wasn’t ideal, the surgery would be too expensive or too much traveling would be required.
So she started to call human prosthetic companies around Memphis. That’s when she found Lucas Boe at the Hanger Clinic.
“I indicated I would like to try,” said Boe , a CPO and manager at the Hanger Clinic. “It was my first attempt with anything outside of a human, but I did want to give it a shot and see if I could make it work for her,.”
His wife Jessica also works at the Hanger Clinic, which agreed to cover the prosthetic material costs.
“It’s a little more complicated in the sense that she doesn’t really understand what we’re trying to do necessarily. Humans, typically, you can communicate and explain, and they understand the process,” said Jessica Boe, a certified prosthetist.
Harper had to be bribed with treats and pets, and the Boes fell in love with her along the way.
“She’s such a sweet and goofy, silly dog that I knew she’d fit right in with us,” said Lucas.
Jondle said if she was going to let Harper go to anybody, it would be the Boes.
“It was sort of a perfect fit,” said Jessica. “Who better to have a dog with a prosthetic leg than two people who make prosthetics for a living?”
Harper’s now a happy member of the family — always playing with their two daughters, other dog and cat.
But Jondle is still Harper’s vet and her dog-sitter when needed. She says she’s already noticed a difference in her strength and speed.
“It’s so exciting,” said Jondle. “It makes me really happy.”
Harper’s created a life-long bond between the two families.
“I just think the desire for both sides to see her do really, really well is something we both share and I think that kind of drew everybody together circling around her,” said Lucas.
The Jondles already have plans to watch Harper over Thanksgiving weekend.