homepage logo

For Nipper’s Sake

By Staff | Aug 28, 2019

PHOTO PROVIDED Nipper, a 10-year-old Australian Cattledog owned by Bob and Chris Atwell, of Muncy, recently underwent a serious health threat that resulted in a partial amputation. Resting comfortably and able to regain mobility, Nipper is “back to her normal, goofy self,” the Atwells report. Inset photo is a close up of the prosthetic leg.

What began as a routine visit to a local veterinary practice developed into devastating news for a Muncy Township couple

When Bob and Chris Atwell, of Pennsdale, took Nipper, their 10-year-old female Australian Shepherd to the Lewis Veterinary Center last February, they didn’t anticipate anything unusual to occur.

“She was supposed to have a tooth removed, but during the course of the exam, Dr. Lewis found a lump on the bottom of her right foot,” the Atwells said. Dr. Lewis recommended having the lump expressed to remove the fluid inside in order to have it tested. Test results returned with bad news-the lump was cancerous.

Dr. Lewis recommended the Atwells schedule an appointment at either the University of Pennsylvania or Cornell University. The couple was able to secure an appointment approximately 10 days later, and even then, the lump had grown larger in that short time span.

An evaluation from a specialist at the University of Pennsylvania recommended that Nipper undergo the surgical removal of the dew claw, the first toe, and a portion of the bone, Chris Atwell said. The surgery took place at Cornell and went as well as expected. The Atwells then returned each week to Dr. Lewis, who changed the dog’s bandages and examined the surgical site.

“By the second week, necrotic tissue was observed by Dr. Lewis, who recommended that Nipper should return to Cornell immediately,” Chris said.

“I left that night to take her,” Bob said.

By the end of the week, Nipper’s doctor believed that Nipper would not get any better, due to the dying tissue. The trauma affected Nipper to the point where she’d lay on the animals hospital gurney and wouldn’t move, Chris said. The Atwells knew they had to make a decision for Nipper’s sake.

Choosing between a partial or full amputation, the couple believed a prosthetic leg was the best choice for their beloved companion. A partial amputation was successfully performed and after healing, Nipper was fitted with a prosthetic leg at Cornell, which took almost a full month to receive.

The Atwells report that Nipper has adjusted extremely well to the prosthetic leg, and has happily “returned to her normal goofy self,” Chris said, adding that Tucker, their 5-year-old rescue dog has also required adjustment to the new device as well.

“We’ve had to tell Tuck to take it easy on Nipper during the initial phase, that he couldn’t play [rough] with her,” Bob said.

Nipper was one remaining appointment next month in order to be successfully discharged, and the Atwells are positive in Nipper’s recovery.

  • Muncy Veterinary Center is located at 1804 John Brady Drive, Muncy.