December 18, 2013
BOSTON, Dec. 18, 2013 – Patients at the renowned Atlantic Prosthetics & Orthotics in Westport, Mass. are anything but ordinary. Since 1981 the custom brace and artificial limb provider has helped thousands of patients—from newborn babies to the elderly—adjust to new lives after traumatic brain and spinal cord injury, Multiple Sclerosis, amputation and other serious injuries and conditions.
In addition to the expert care provided by Atlantic’s president, certified prosthetist and orthotist Bob Easterbrooks, patients have since November also received unconditional support from a dog named Callie Mae, the organization’s official comfort dog. And like the patients themselves, Callie Mae is far from ordinary.
Surrendered to the MSPCA-Angell in October 2013 with extensive nerve and tissue damage to her left front leg, veterinarians opted to amputate the leg to spare her the pain of recurring injuries caused when she dragged her foot. Shortly after her surgery Callie Mae was adopted by Bob and his wife Kathleen, and the eight-year-old black lab is now on her way to full certification as a comfort dog.
|Patient Rocco Reed of Swansea loves visiting Callie during his appointments (credit: Atlantic Prosthetic & Orthotics)|
Callie Mae’s sweet demeanor and careful touch are prized by Atlantic’s human patients, many of whom feel a special camaraderie towards a dog who is also finding purpose, joy and love of movement despite profound physical limitations. “It’s difficult for most of us to understand how challenging life can be for disabled people—particularly amputees who struggle to envision a future given their condition,” said Kathleen. “Callie’s constant presence is immeasurably beneficial to patients who often cannot shake hands or rise to greet—but who take tremendous comfort when Callie stations herself by their side.”
Kathleen reports that Callie Mae spends much of her day leaning in toward wheelchair bound patients, positioning her head under their hands so they can feel her soft fur or just staying near patients as they endure long and tiring therapy sessions. “It’s heartwarming to see Callie in action; it’s almost like she understands given her own amputation how challenging it can be for human patients who are trying to make their way in the world despite their disabilities,” said Kathleen.
Kathleen and the team at Atlantic are continuing to train Callie Mae so that her ability to comfort patients can grow even more meaningful. “It’s a process,” said Kathleen. “And we’re working with her at her own pace—much like our patients—and the most important thing for her right now is to continue her own recovery and feel confident that she’s making such a tremendous difference for the people who’ve come to love her.”
From Castaway to Hero
Like many of the thousands of dogs, cats and other animals surrendered to the MSPCA every year, Callie Mae arrived with a terrible injury that could not be fixed—and the veterinary team was never able to determine just what caused it. But seeing her thrive in her new role has been incredibly gratifying. “Callie Mae reminds us all of the bravery and steadfastness that animals possess. We are thrilled that such a brave and sweet dog can leverage her own experience with disability to support others on their way to recovery,” said Alyssa Muro, manager of the MSPCA-Angell adoption center in Jamaica Plain.
The MSPCA-Angell’s three state-wide animal care and adoption centers take in, and place into new homes, thousands of homeless dogs, cats and other animals every year. Callie Mae represents just one of the many animals who arrive every day—and whose futures are brighter as a result of the care they receive. Readers can contribute directly toward the care of these animals by clicking here.
The MSPCA-Angell is a national and international leader in animal protection and veterinary medicine and provides direct hands-on care for thousands of animals each year. Founded in 1868, it is the second-oldest humane society in the United States. Services include animal protection and adoption, advocacy, humane education, law enforcement, and world-class veterinary care. The MSPCA-Angell is a private, non-profit organization. It does not receive any government funding nor is it funded or operated by any national humane organization. The MSPCA-Angell relies solely on the support and contributions from individuals who care about animals. Please visit www.mspca.org and like us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/mspcaangell