Dog who had his front legs chopped off becomes a therapy animal for amputees

True, a two-year-old mixed breed dog, had a tough start to life.

He was originally owned by an addict, who, while high, cut off the dog’s two front legs after spotting True digging a hole in the garden.

True managed to drag himself closer to the neighbour’s house. The neighbours rushed him to a shelter in Ukraine so he could get urgent medical care.

The shelter kept True for a few months so he could recover, but worried that he wouldn’t survive the winter due to his new disability.

Once he was healed physically, the shelter reached out to one of their rescue partners in Canada, Cause 4 Paws, to spread True’s story on social media and raise funds for his medical bills.

That’s how estate agent Erin Blaak, 31, discovered True’s story. She wanted to adopt him instantly, despite him being miles away in Ukraine.

On December 4, 2018, True was flown to Toronto to meet his new family; Erin, chef Romain Avril, their Pomeranian called Bandito, and their Labrador-Dane mixed breed Brady.

‘I wasn’t even looking for a dog as we already have two, but I follow rescues on Facebook and his picture popped up with his story,’ said Erin.

‘True is from Ukraine and his owner was high on drugs. True was digging a hole outdoors, and his owner hacked both of his front legs off.

‘The owner later died of an overdose. One of the neighbours found True as he had dragged himself close to their house.

‘It absolutely broke my heart. I spoke to my boyfriend and I called in immediately and offered to foster him. The rescue that brought him over is called Cause 4 Paws and they’ve been doing this for several years and they have rescued over 1,000 dogs.

‘We first met True in Toronto airport and it was emotional but we were very happy to have him and give him the life he deserves.’

True has been showered with love and care, and has now settled into his new life.

His injuries mean he has to be carried a lot of the time and he gets tired easily, but he’s learned to walk on his hind legs – he can even jump on the sofa and the bed.

When True goes outside he uses a specially designed wheelchair. Erin and Romain have made sure he gets plenty of exercise, too, so he stays fit and healthy.

Now True is training to become a therapy dog, so that he can bring joy to amputees.

Erin says: ‘True has fit in really well to our family and he loves all dogs and people, so he gets on well with our other dogs. He just wants to be loved by all.

‘In 2019, True started using his wheelchair and he really likes it. It’s challenging for him to learn, so he’s still trying to learn how to turn around,” said Erin.

‘We are training each day to hopefully be able to go for longer periods of time with the wheelchair. He also has temporary prosthetics which we are working on as well.

‘He just uses the wheelchair when he’s outside, but around the house he walks on his hind legs – slowly and with breaks. He can jump up on the sofa without a wheelchair, but he cannot lie down in the chair.’

Learning about True’s story has inspired Erin to fight against animal abuse. She has since planned and hosted fundraisers for Cause 4 Paws to help their rescue efforts, and wants to help other dogs who have suffered abuse.

‘The first fundraiser I did was for True so we could pay for his water therapy, his wheelchair, his prosthetics, and any other needs,’ says Erin. ‘We received support from across the country and we raised a total of over £20,000.

‘We’ve helped many more dogs since, both locally and internationally.

‘We are so lucky to have dogs in our lives and we don’t deserve their unconditional love.

‘I think it’s important to respect all creatures on our planet. I understand there will always be a debate between vegans and vegetarians compared to people who eat meat; however, I think killing for sport, or cruelty for one’s entertainment must be stopped. There should be more consequences in place.

‘It’s sad how much animal abuse and cruelty there is in the world. There’s a lack of laws preventing this and in countries where there are a lot of street dogs, they reproduce rapidly, and are often starved, hit by cars, or purposely tortured.

‘True and I are going through the process of applying to get him qualified as a therapy dog.

‘It’s our hope to visit the amputee divisions and bring joy and healing to those need it.

‘True loves to cuddle and make people happy, as do I. We can’t think of a better way to spend our time.’

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