“Her rehab program included standing and walking on unstable surfaces to teach her to use her core muscles to help stabilize her.”

Leilani was born with a rare birth defect. Leilani was supposed to be one of identical twins, but the embryo did not split properly and Leilani ended up with a back leg with double parts, all of which were deformed. Instead of being euthanized, she was surrendered to Arizona Golden Retriever Connection for a chance at a better life.

Unfortunately, the deformity was too great and Leilani’s back leg had to be amputated. She became a tri-pawd at the tender age of 2 months old. However, Leilani had the rescue volunteers and her moms, Lisa and Brenda, on her side. She began physical rehabilitation with Dr. Sonnet at AZ Canine Rehab to help her body recover from surgery and adapt to only having three legs.

Leilani’s rehabilitation focused on learning to balance, body awareness and proprioception, and coordination. Her rehab program included standing and walking on unstable surfaces to teach her to use her core muscles to help stabilize her. We also focused on preventing bad habits like scooting or pivoting on her bottom instead of standing up. As she recovered from surgery, we did exercises to help her strengthen her one good back leg. I even purchased some of the equipment and set up a “gym” in the living room to practice!

Now we live in Indiana on a farm, we have other challenges and opportunities for exercise.  Particularly challenging were stairs, but Leilani has mastered them very quickly! We have open land with a hill that Leilani runs on several times every day.  She is so agile & fast, thanks to all of her early rehab, that she beats the four-legged Goldens up the hill!

As a special note, Leilani was selected to participate in the Morris Foundation’s Golden Retriever Lifetime Study, which follows 3,000 golden retrievers from puppy-hood for their entire lives with the goal of learning more about cancer.

leilani at ISDIn June, Leilani received her AKC CGC title and we became a registered therapy team with Pet Partners. Leilani earned the highest rating of “Complex”, allowing us to work in difficult and unpredictable settings. Now she works with kids with learning disabilities at the Indiana School for the Deaf. She was able to get an autistic boy to smile and give her a hug! We’ll work with the Physical Therapy/Occupational Therapy Coordinators that work with the kids. Bring on the balance equipment!

Lisa Givan,
Leilani’s Mom and Pet Partner Handler

From: AZ Canine Rehab
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