Sep 262011
 
Authors: Bailey Constas

At first glance, Cooper might just seem like another giant spirited puppy, but after closer examination, this 130-pound Great Dane comes with a story that rivals all 101 Dalmatians.

As a two-to-three-week-old puppy Cooper’s tibia was fractured and not cared for, causing an angular deformity when the bone healed. But with the help of his now owner Sally Stoffel, and CSU veterinary orthopedic surgeon Dr. Ross Palmer, this rescue dog has new lease on an active life.

The first time Stoffel laid eyes on Cooper was through the images sent to her email by a breeder in Nebraska.

“I fell in love with the face of the dog,” Stoffel said. “He was a cute little puppy.”

When visiting Cooper for the first time, Stoffel said she ended up creating a bond immediately, playing with him for over an hour. But, according to Stoffel, while Cooper was a happy dog, his crooked leg left him limited.

Stoffel brought Cooper in to visit with Palmer in February, leading to many pre-operation appointments and an eventual surgery.

Palmer ended up performing an operation that added 76 millimeters to Cooper’s right hind tibia. The operation included cutting Cooper’s shin bone and then straightening it with a device that was borrowed by a colleague of Palmer’s from Milan, Italy.

This device was used to elongate the bone even further with help from Stoffel. Every day for three to four weeks after surgery, Stoffel would twist the turnbuckles on the device two to three millimeters a day. It was then taken off in August to let the bone

At first glance, Cooper might just seem like another giant spirited puppy, but after closer examination, this 130-pound Great Dane comes with a story that rivals all 101 Dalmatians.

As a two-to-three-week-old puppy Cooper’s tibia was fractured and not cared for, causing an angular deformity when the bone healed. But with the help of his now owner Sally Stoffel, and CSU veterinary orthopedic surgeon Dr. Ross Palmer, this rescue dog has new lease on an active life.

The first time Stoffel laid eyes on Cooper was through the images sent to her email by a breeder in Nebraska.
“I fell in love with the face of the dog,” Stoffel said. “He was a cute little puppy.”

When visiting Cooper for the first time, Stoffel said she ended up creating a bond immediately, playing with him for over an hour. But, according to Stoffel, while Cooper was a happy dog, his crooked leg left him limited.

Stoffel brought Cooper in to visit with Palmer in February, leading to many pre-operation appointments and an eventual surgery.

Palmer ended up performing an operation that added 76 millimeters to Cooper’s right hind tibia. The operation included cutting Cooper’s shin bone and then straightening it with a device that was borrowed by a colleague of Palmer’s from Milan, Italy.

This device was used to elongate the bone even further with help from Stoffel. Every day for three to four weeks after surgery, Stoffel would twist the turnbuckles on the device two to three millimeters a day. It was then taken off in August to let the bone fully heal.

The technology that was used for Cooper’s operation has been primarily used for humans, but it has now opened a new door for the advancement of veterinarian orthopedics.

“Not very long ago that dog would be crippled for life,” said Monika Lee, a junior veterinary student at CSU.

Professional students, interns and resident students from CSU along with colleagues from all over the world assisted with Cooper’s case.

“[The] reputation of CSU is doing wonderful things,” Stoffel said, adding that the high expectations and status of CSU’s veterinary program was the reason she brought Cooper to Fort Collins and paid $7,000 for the operation.

“Life quality and an active lifestyle is our goal,” Palmer said, at one of Cooper’s check-ups Monday morning. “We had the right dog, the right owner and the right treatment.”

As for today, Cooper is able to walk normally on his leg, although there still is a one to two-inch difference between his other three legs.

Monday’s checkup will decide if a prosthetic lift shoe on his leg or a second bone lengthening procedure will need to be performed.

Collegian writer Bailey Constas can be reached at news@collegian.com

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