Dogs are resilient, resourceful and determined creatures. When facing adversity, most tend to tackle it with vigor and enthusiasm. A dog with two legs, whether it’s two front legs, two hind legs or one of each, can live a happy and fulfilling life -- but only with the support of his family. With some lifestyle adjustments and a positive attitude from his family, a two-legged dog can achieve anything.
Faith the two-legged dog found fame when she appeared on the Oprah Winfrey show. This plucky pooch was born with severely deformed limbs, leaving two functioning hind legs. In order to encourage her to get about by herself, her family trained her to hop. They used peanut butter as a lure and rewarded the little dog every time she used her hind legs to propel herself forward. Over time, Faith developed an unusual but very effective means of getting about. As a result, her hind legs and back muscles are extremely strong and she is capable of walking in an almost upright position unaided.
It’s essential, regardless of which legs your dog has, to encourage him to make the most of his mobility. You may be able to provide physical assistance at times, such as carrying the dog up the stairs; but by training your dog to get about as best he can, he is able to be a little more independent.
Encouraging independence is essential, but that doesn’t mean owners shouldn’t make life as easy as possible for their dogs. Leading a two-legged dog up or down stairs, for example is asking too much. He'll need to be carried. Similarly, it’s smart to put your dog’s bed near to the door, so he doesn’t have far to travel should he need to go potty. It's important to make sure your dog remains a healthy weight. Don't overfeed him. Obesity will compound any mobility problems he is already experiencing.
Depending on your dog’s condition, he may benefit from mechanical or prosthetic assistance. Carts or doggy wheelchairs enable pooches who lack two rear legs to get around just fine, but be warned; two front legs and a set of wheels can be faster than four legs. As well as using technology to help your dog, you should use your own instincts: A two-legged dog will need a little more rest than his four-legged buddies, but he may not see it that way. You’ll need to ensure he doesn’t exhaust himself trying to keep up with able-bodied people and pets. If necessary, use a specially designed harness that supports the legless part of his body to help him get about. Prosthetics can be custom-built and fitted where carts aren't suitable. For example, dogs lacking a limb on one side of the body would be better suited to a prosthetic than to a cart. Similarly, any dog unfortunate enough to suffer front and rear limb loss or dual limb loss on one side, can gain some balance with prosthetics.
The adaptations two-legged dogs make to get about can add a little wear and tear to the body. For example, a dog without two front legs may experience rubbing or chafing on the chest and chin due to the high amount of time the front of the body is in contact with the ground. Look out for signs of rubbing, chafing, stress and discomfort when grooming your dog.
- Oprah: Things You Didn’t Know a Dog Could Do on Two Legs
- Caspar Star-Tribune Online: Cheyenne Two-Legged Dog Named Roo Hops Along
- Life With Dogs: Duncan the Two-Legged Dog Beats All Odds
- Mother Nature Network: Owners Offer Tips of Caring for Dogs With Special Needs
- Orthopets: Thoracic (Fore) Limb Prosthetics
- Image courtesy of Compfight.com