When he was a pup in Bangkok, Cola had his front legs chopped off with a sword after he chewed a neighbour’s shoes. He was brought to the holiday island of Phuket by Gill Dalley, Phuket's animal welfare pioneer and Soi Dog co-founder.
Gill felt an immediate affinity with Cola as she had herself lost both legs after contracting septicaemia that almost killed her, and was fitted with prosthetics by Bengt Soderberg, owner of the Scandinavian Orthopaedic Laboratory in Phuket and the Director of Center of Excellence Prosthetics and Orthotics at Siriraj Hospital, Bangkok (read more here).
She went to him and asked if he could do the same for Cola. He said he would try and actually succeeded in it.
Initially, Cola was fitted with straight glass fibre extension for his legs, but these had no bounce in them, and were heavy, Soi Dog Foundation says in a press release. So, Bengt set about inventing extensions based on Paralympian blades. And Cola took to his new legs like a champion, racing up and down the beach on his blades within minutes of having them installed.
Sadly, Gill couldn't see Cola running again as she died in February this year. It was Gill's husband John Dalley who took Cola to the dog's first excursion to the beach with his new legs.
“We are so happy to see Cola running with his new legs. Dogs certainly learn how to use prosthetics faster than human do, and it is great to see him play and run like the other dogs,” John said.
“He was just six months old when his terrible ordeal happened. Like a lot of puppies, he liked to chew things that were lying around, including the neighbour’s boots. The neighbour complained to Cola’s owner, who offered to compensate him for the damage. But it seems that the neighbour wasn’t satisfied with the offer. He came back that night and hacked off Cola’s front legs, using a sword,” he explained.
According to Dr Bengt Soderberg, it was the first time for his Scandinavian Orthopaedic Laboratory in Phuket to create a set of hi-tech prosthetics legs for a dog.
“Gill lost both her legs about 10 years ago and I made prosthetics for her. When she mentioned to me that she had a dog who had also lost his front legs, I knew that the most natural thing for me was to help. Cola is the first dog I have made bilateral legs for and we have been tweaking the prosthetics so that they don’t bother him, or at least to keep the disturbance to a minimum,” Dr Sodenberg said.
“The new legs took about a year to create and are very similar to what professional athletes use in the Paralympics. We used the same carbon fibre, same structure and same suspension. This provides Cola with maximum flexibility combined with low weight, allowing him to run and play like the other dogs do,” he added.