For starters, the Chihuahua, estimated to be about 4 years old, survived an accident that should have ended his life.
After being hit by a car, the pooch was unable to use his hind legs for weeks. So, as all dogs do, he adapted.
Rodrigo taught himself to shift his body weight forward, balance it, and now prefers to walk using only his two front paws, especially when he wants to run.
It was nearly two months ago when Rodrigo was brought into Culbreth-Carr-Watson Animal Clinic by a “good Samaritan” named Donna Payne, said veterinarian Amy Warren.
She said Rodrigo’s back was split open, and Payne had ripped up an old T-shirt and tied it around him to hold his skin together.
Watson and other veterinary techs worked to stabilize Rodrigo, cleaned his massive wound, and sutured the skin back together. Unfortunately, X-rays revealed that he had some significant pelvic fractures.
The doctors decided to keep Rodrigo in a cage for a period of time, knowing that as he would lie still, those fractures would begin to heal themselves. However, the pup suffered some considerable nerve damage to his back legs, so much so, that it pains him to use them while he still heals.
“All that tissue died because there was no blood flow,” Warren said of the excess tissue from his wounds. The huge flap of tissue that couldn’t be saved, she said, has been trimmed and stitched a few times.
Terra Avila, a veterinary tech at the clinic, couldn’t bear to leave Rodrigo at the clinic over night. She took on the role as a foster owner and takes him home with her in the evenings while he continues to heal.
Rodrigo, she said, is a marvelously well-behaved dog. He’s super quiet, but more comfortable, playful and outgoing when he’s in a warm, welcoming home rather than the clinic.
She said it was during his trips outdoors that he discovered he could balance on his front paws, as though he’s doing a handstand.
“He couldn’t even stand, so I had to support him when he used the bathroom,” Avila said. “After a week or two, he could support himself, but he was wobbly.”
She said as the healing process continued, Rodrigo learned to use his working muscles to lift his bottom in the air, and now he can travel more quickly just walking on his front paws.
But Avila said she hopes the dog will use his hind legs again once he heals completely. “Ideally, we’ll try to rehabilitate him and make him use those back legs to build that muscle back up,” she said. “It becomes a habit, when they learn to adapt like that, and he’ll always somewhat occasionally do that. It’s really cute, but we’d like for him to use (all four legs).”
Rodrigo is still healing, but once that process is complete, he may need a new, loving home. Avila and Watson said they can’t give an approximate estimate as to when that will be, but until then, Rodrigo is well cared for and will continue to be one extraordinary Chihuahua.
“The average dog wouldn’t have survived injuries like that,” Avila said. “He had to fight hard to live. He has a pretty perfect personality.”