PULLMAN – A Chesapeake Bay retriever that ran for months on two broken front legs and has captured the hearts of many in the Tri-Cities area of Washington may now get the help he needs.

“Chocolate” will undergo surgery today (Friday, Feb. 8) at WSU’s Veterinary Teaching Hospital to help repair his injuries that
healed improperly on their own.

The injured dog was seen wandering through fields north of Pasco, Wash., for the past six months. Despite injuries that may have killed many other animals, Chocolate taught himself to walk primarily by using his back legs.

The big dog arrived in Pullman Wednesday night after being seen by Janine Swailes of the Meadow Hills Veterinary Clinic in Kennewick, Wash. X-Rays revealed old, abnormally healed fractures in both forelegs, along with several fragments from both a pellet gun and a small caliber weapon.

“The injuries are extreme,” said WSU veterinary surgeon Steve Martinez who will be performing the surgery. “He reminds me of a T-Rex in the way he has taught himself to walk, most likely because of the severe pain from his broken bones.”

The injuries appear to be months old and have healed improperly. The WSU surgical team will work to realign, and strengthen the bones, while working to return his range of motion to joints that have been partially fused.

“Dogs are remarkable creatures,” said Martinez, “Chocolate has certainly demonstrated a resiliency that is critical to his long-term recovery.”

Surgery on both limbs is expected to take most of the day Thursday, and may even require follow up procedures. Following surgery, Martinez said that Chocolate will require extensive physical therapy to gain the use of his front legs.

WSU has recently upgraded its post-operative rehabilitation facilities with a state-of-the-art tool. A new underwater treadmill for physical therapy was purchased and installed with funds from two grateful donors to the college.

Despite his painful injuries, the team at WSU said Chocolate continues to maintain a happy and even playful attitude. The WSU team will have a better idea of his long term chances after Martinez completes today’s surgery.