Zac our bionic dog.

Dog’s are a Man’s’ best friend, they give us unconditional love and companionship that result in them being loved whole hearted and treated as part of the family. They provide a sounding board for your big decisions, a pillow to cry on, they make you laugh, relieve stress and keep you fit. Simply put they are a friend for life.

The type of dogs that people have now has changed, gone are the days when everyone had German Sheperds, Labradors, Dobermans and Fox Terriers now dog’s have become the latest accessories for the empty nesters and with the introduction of no mess (poodle cross varieties) the types of dogs turning up at the local café include Golderndoodle, Cockapoo, Cavoodle, Maltipoo, Labradooles and so the list goes on.

Our dog Zac was no lap dog, he was a 50+ kg Rottweiler, that could run like the wind and his favourite pastime was playing with the grandchildren with the hose or running along the fence line barking at the cyclists that used to pass by our lifestyle property. He was big, he was beautiful and best mate to everyone in our family.

Big Fella.

He joined our family as a very energetic puppy who soon outgrew our fox terrier within a few weeks of his arrival. He was our son’s dog, who trained Zac extremely well resulting in the most lovable ‘big fella’ that looked ‘scary’ with a loud bark; they used to enjoy going to the river swimming and were inseparable. When he moved away to uni he became my husbands dog, I say that because Zac thought he was the boss of me. A couple of times he was on our bed lazing in the afternoon sun and would not get off for me, so I took him for some lessons with the ‘dog whisperer’ so I could control him. This was particularly important when he decided he wanted to play with other dogs when on a walk.

My husband spent so much time with the dogs that we had a rule in the house, that when he was talking, unless he was actually looking at me I could ignore him because unless he was looking at me 99% of the time he was actually talking to the dog. Unconditional love and best mates.

When our grandson came to live with us, Zac got another boss, the two of them used to wonder around the property playing hide in seek in the grass for hours. If we couldn’t see our grandson we just had to look for Zac. Hours spent creating amazing memories, a true friend.

One day Zac limped around the corner, so we visited our local vet; unfortunately the vet determined that he had very early stages of Osteosarcoma an aggressive bone cancer. She advised us that due to the aggressive nature of the this cancer amputation was the usual treatment however Dr Johnathon Bray, at Massey University, was in the middle of a trial performing bone sparing operations, whereby the bone was removed and replaced with a custom designed titanium implant (Dr Bray moved to the UK in 2017).

We opted to check it out and investigations suggested Zac was a good candidate as the cancer was very early. The concerns were around him being the first tibia replacement (the second largest bone in their body, his back left leg) and he was a large dog.

The creation of the implant was specific to him whereby a CT scan provided an exact image for the vendor to print the titanium implant with a 3D printer. Because of the size of the implant it took them three goes before the vet was happy to proceed.

Titanium 3D printed designed specifically for Zac
The lattice section replaces the bone and designed to be integrated into the body.

The operation was a success and treatment included four days of continual chemotherapy. When we picked up Zac he hobbled out and immediately jumped up placing his front legs onto a bench (his favourite position), fortunately the implant was well secured.

First day back from operation and chemotherapy – sporting a bit a shave.

Recovery went reasonably well and he managed to return to running reasonably quickly, although much of the time he elected to run with his leg up. He was the biggest fasted dog on three legs, we used to think there were issues with the implant but he could walk on the leg just chose not to at times.

Although our car at the time became his second kennel as we travelled backwards and forwards to Massey as part of the trial he was happy and healthy. He was back chasing the cyclists and missing in action with our grandson in the paddock most days.

We were devasted one morning, nine months after his operation, when he hoped in to the kitchen with his leg dangling, the implant had failed, it was the worst day ever as we had to make the decision to put him to sleep.

Our amazing beloved dog, friend, family member Zac will be in our hearts forever.

We were so grateful for the opportunity of the additional months that the operation allowed him after his diagnosis, and being part of the ground breaking research that will help support humans in the future. We received the most amazing support and onging treatment from our local Vet Services and his vet Rachel loved him as much as we did. The associated paper was published in the American Veterinary Journal.

He was a dog like no other.

Standing guard.

2 comments

  1. Please accept my sincerest condolences for your loss. This was such a beautiful story. Thank you for sharing. And I’m reminded to cherish every moment that we have with them❣

    Like

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