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Puppy born with upside-down paws learns to walk after undergoing corrective surgery

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Posted at 10:19 AM, Sep 03, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-03 17:08:58-04

STILLWATER, Okla. — A dog born with upside-down paws has a new “leash” on life.

The rat terrier puppy named Siggi has learned to walk after undergoing corrective surgery on her limbs at Oklahoma State University’s Veterinary Teaching Hospital in Stillwater.

Siggi arrived at a Dallas animal rescue group in May and the 13-week-old dog was soon transported the Oklahoma hospital to meet Dr. Erik Clary, a small animal surgeon who made headlines in 2019 when he performed surgery on a dog named Milo that had a similar issue with its limbs.

Like with the first dog, Clary says Siggi’s problem looked like it was in her paws, but it was actually to do with her elbows.

“For reasons not fully understood, these patients’ elbows come out of joint early in life and the result is severe rotation of the lower front limbs and an inability to walk. At most, they might muster a crawl that seems most uncomfortable and is poorly suited for a dog’s life,” Clary told the university in an interview.

The hospital performed a 64-slice CT exam on the four-pound dog that gave Clary and his team information on the shape and alignment of her limb bones. Clary says the exam showed that Siggi’s bones were significantly deformed in the lower part of her elbow, which complicated a joint issue.

"The CT helped us plan a more complex procedure that would require an intentional break high up in her ulna bone to de-rotate the limb,” said Clary.

On May 12, Clary performed the surgery on Siggi’s paws to bring them into proper orientation. Afterward, the dog’s elbows were protected with splints and an orthopedic fixator device while her ulna bones took the necessary time to heal.

On June 29, Siggi returned to the hospital for a scheduled checkup, where Clary says his team confirmed the bones were healing and removed the dog’s splints for good.

At that stage, Clary says it was time to begin teaching Siggi how to walk and she proved to be a fairly quick learner.

“Lorraine, her medical foster with Dallas Dog RRR, did a fabulous job implementing an incremental rehabilitation regimen that now has Siggi doing many things that puppies like to do, including chasing a ball in the yard,” Clary said. “Truly, I could not be more pleased with Siggi’s progress.”