The pooch with three feet...
This is Abbey. She is an absolute sweetheart (and a bit of a goof). I recently adopted her from an Australian Cattle Dog rescue group in Arizona. Unfortunately, we don't have a lot of information on her background. What I do know is that she came to the rescue from a shelter in New Mexico. Sadly, the adoption statistics from this shelter were frighteningly low. As luck would have it, someone there knew of the rescue group in AZ and made arrangements for the transfer. She arrived at the rescue skinny, fearful, pregnant and missing a foot. Only two of the puppies lived, this was likely due to poor nutrition during the pregnancy. The good news there is that both puppies were adopted shortly after being weaned. Abbey stayed with them a while longer while they worked with her on her fear and 'shyness'. As to her missing foot, she doesn't really let it slow her down. She can actually move really quickly when she wants to. Her stump was already healed when she arrived at the rescue, their vet said that because of where it ends, it probably wasn't a surgical amputation. Their best guess was that she had lost it in a claw trap. Luckily, she lost enough so that it doesn't scrape or drag the ground.
While she does get around the house without any problems, I'd like to fit her with a boot that we can use for longer walks, hiking, etc. so that she doesn't have to carry all of her back weight on the one foot. That's the purpose of this article...
Step 1: Abbey's Boot
Step 2: Alginate Casting
- Get a 'true to life' positive cast of her leg
- Create a 'boot' that will close the gap between where her leg ends and the ground to allow her to rest her weight naturally on both legs (imagine something that would work like a pirate's peg leg)
- Use the positive casting and the boot together, cast soft silicone pads to line the inside of the boot. Provided that the positive casting is accurate enough, this should make it very close to a perfect fit once all of the pieces are assembled.
The Positive Casting:
Because her stub get bigger at the end, I don't think a plaster casting is a viable solution without doing a two-part mold. After doing some research, it looks like a fast setting alginate may be the way to go -
- Spread a thick alginate mix over the leg
- Allow it to set, some formulas cure within a few minutes
- Once dry, it will hopefully slide it off like a boot. The flexibility of the alginate should allow it to slide over the wider part of the stub without destroying the mold.
(in the image, picture the black sock as the dried/cured alginate)