Dog runs again with Paralympic sprinter-like prosthetics
Animal welfare organisation and prosthetist in Phuket help dog with amputated front legs
Just over a year after his front legs were hacked off, Cola the dog can run again with prosthetic legs similar to those used by Paralympic sprinters.
In May last year, the two-year-old mixed breed was attacked by its owner's neighbour in Bangkok with a sword after the dog chewed his shoes.
It was rescued by Soi Dog Foundation, a Phuket-based animal welfare organisation.
Mr John Dalley, 68, who co-founded the foundation with his late wife, Gill, told The New Paper: "One of his front legs was completely severed, while the other was hanging by a thread."
A trip to a vet in Bangkok saved Cola's life, but he was left with two stumps for front legs.
Mrs Dalley, who lost her legs to a bacterial infection in 2004 after rescuing a dog from a flooded field, adopted Cola.
Said Mr Dalley: "Gill had an affinity with Cola - they shared a natural connection."
Cola was initially fitted with a pair of glass fibre prosthetics, but they wore out a month after the incident.
Mrs Dalley took Cola to her prosthetist, Mr Bengt Soderberg, in Phuket, in hopes that he could craft a pair of prosthetic legs for Cola.
Mr Soderberg, 60, who until then had worked only with humans, agreed to help for free.
He said: "I wanted to show Cola that not all humans are cruel to animals."
After a year of trial and error, Mr Soderberg successfully crafted a set of carbon fibre prosthetic legs that were modelled after those used by Paralympic sprinters.
He said: "They provide Cola with maximum flexibility and balance, while the light weight allows him to run faster."
Last month, Cola was fitted with the suspended prosthetic legs.
Said Mr Dalley: "He was running within minutes with his new legs."
Cola is believed to be the first dog in the world to receive suspended blades that curl up in a "C" shape, while his amputated limbs rest in a silicon socket.
Mr Dalley said, in reference to his wife, who died of lung cancer in February at the age of 57: "Gill would have been over the moon to see it."
To Mr Soderberg, Cola is a poster dog for changing attitudes towards physical disabilities.
He said: "Cola is not embarrassed about being an amputee.
"Watching him run carefree without any shame shows how anybody with disabilities can still live a normal life."