Cola has become the world’s first canine Blade Runner after being fitted with suspended prosthetic legs with blades, like those used by Paralympic sprinters.
As a pup in Bangkok, Cola lost both of his front legs in a horribly traumatic way: they were hacked off with a sword by a neighbour whose shoes Cola had chewed. Luckily for Cola, she caught the attention of Gill Dalley, one of the founders of the Soi Dog Foundation, which rescues and rehabilitates strays across Thailand. Gill, who passed away after a short battle with cancer in February 2017, had lost her legs as well years earlier, and felt an immediate affinity with Cola.
Gill turned to the one who had provided her with her own prosthetic legs, Bengt Soderberg, owner of the Scandinavian Orthopedic Laboratory in Phuket, and asked him to do the same for Cola. The pup was fitted with straight glassfibre extension for his legs, but as they were heavy and had no bounce in them, Bengt got to work to create extensions based on Paralympian blades.
He said, “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 to do 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. 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 fiber, 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.”
Sadly Gill didn’t live long enough to see Cola with his brand new legs, but her husband John Dalley was delighted to see him strolling on the beach with them.
“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.
Cola’s own comment, according to Soi Dog, was “a huge puppy grin before he lollopped off down the beach with his pals”.
Images by Raymond Gerritsen/SoiDog.Org