BRISTOL, Va. - There's an up-and-coming therapy dog in the Tri-Cities that's turning heads and stealing hearts. The eleven-week-old golden retriever is training to help people going through rehab, and she has a very special trait that's making her a unique fit for the job.
The little ball of fur seems like any other pup. She chews, she cuddles, and she runs. "It's just lots of fun, she's so playful all the time," said Doris Muse, a therapy patient.
However, there's something different about Lily; she's missing a paw. "I really wanted to get a pet that could work alongside me that could help my patients. She did seem like the perfect choice," said Heather Mullin, occupational therapist.
It was a complication during her birth and Mullin is hoping to turn it into something positive for her patients. "We actually get many people like that who had amputations for multiple reasons and are learning to walk on prosthetics," she explained.
Mullin is training Lily to be a therapy dog. On Wednesday, technicians fitted her for her very own prosthetic paw. "It's challenging, my dad and I did one for a cow years ago and it worked pretty well," said prosthetist Will Graybeal.
"It's not common [to do this], most people find it easier and less expensive to remove the limb," said Mullin.
But they believe the new paw will make this pup a special asset to the group. "When you do something like this for an animal, especially in this case, it if works out for her she'll be a therapy dog to show people it's something you can get along with," said Graybeal.
"Because people can relate to her by seeing her disability and seeing how happy she is," said Mullin.
But ultimately, it is for Lily to decide if she wants to wear it. "It's all up to Lily. [It's] all up to Lily, whether she'll tolerate it. [It's] all up to Lily whether she'll walk on it," said Mullin.
They're hoping to get the final prosthetic paw for Lily next week and will start her official training to be a therapy dog when she turns six months old.
For now, she continues to go to work with Mullin, giving kisses to all of her patients.
- VA Gubernatorial Candidate campaigning in Southwest Virginia
- Mall at Johnson City full of race cars for season preview
- Final contract signed to transfer Sullivan North to Kingsport City Schools
- Gov. amends SWVa. lawmaker's bill to raise fine for driving slowly in left lane
- Neighbors propose traffic mural for Johnson City Tree Streets