Puppy takes leg surgery in stride

Elle the smiling white puppy with blue eyes outside on grass
Elle no longer has a front leg, but that doesn’t stop her from living life to the fullest.
By Best Friends staff 

From day one at Best Friends in Los Angeles, Elle proved she wasn’t going to let anything stand in the way of having fun, making friends, and enjoying life. Nothing was going to break this puppy’s spirit and stride — certainly not her impaired front leg that she held close to her body. When she walked or played, it didn’t touch the ground at all.

The Best Friends veterinary team examined Elle’s leg and determined the impairment was congenital. And while it didn’t slow her down one bit, the team thought it best to watch her for a while in a foster home just to make sure.

When Best Friends foster volunteers Kim and Christopher Stanley learned about her, they immediately stepped up to help. Talk about a great match. Kim and Christopher loved Elle’s playful but gentle personality, and considering there was no shortage of tennis balls and belly rubs, it’s safe to say Elle was happy, too.

Puppy lands in foster home

Elle, being a puppy, still needed help in the potty-training department when she went to stay with Kim and Christopher. At first at their home, she’d sometimes go potty outside; other times, she went indoors. So Kim and Christopher came up with a plan to allow Elle in the backyard for potty breaks only, relying on walks and playtime indoors for Elle’s daily exercise.

The plan worked, although at first Elle preferred to be carried, like a princess, to and from the backyard. “She is the cutest when being carried,” says Christopher. “She goes limp like a wet noodle, and I always grabbed a little snuggle while doing it. It can't be helped.”

Kim and Christopher never saw any signs that Elle’s leg was giving her trouble. The vet, however, was concerned that down the road it might cause complications. The best next step, they decided, would be to amputate the leg.

A swift recovery

Kim and Christopher squeezed in extra playtime (and some extra treats, too) during the weeks leading up to Elle’s surgery, which went smoothly. Afterward, they kept a watchful eye on her as she recovered. Elle took it all in stride. In no time, she was back to playing. Those tennis balls weren’t going to chase themselves.

Kim and Christopher learned early on that Elle loves going on walks, so after her recovery, they upped the number of neighborhood strolls to several a day. Because Elle is very interested in people and dogs, they saw the walks as a chance to teach her some new skills. They made sure to have treats on hand, and when Elle sat patiently and watched dogs and people go by, she got to have a treat.

They also helped Elle get used to loud sounds in the neighborhood — sounds that tended to startle her at first. If there was a loud truck or dog in the neighborhood, for example, Elle’s tendency was to freeze. But Kim and Christopher learned that if you kneel beside her for comfort, she’ll sit and take a treat.

Equal lover of people and pets

Elle was completely healed from her surgery when Kim and Christopher got some big news: Shiloh Wersen and her partner, Joel Getrouw, were very interested in adopting her. Best Friends arranged for them to meet Elle in her foster home. “We immediately fell in love,” says Shiloh. “We just knew she would enrich our lives so much, and we wanted to give her all the love she deserves.”

Today, Elle is making fast friends with animals and people everywhere she goes (and she still likes to be held). “She is the star of the morning crowd at the dog park,” says Shiloh, who created an Instagram page for Elle, full of photos and videos that show the pup in her element. She’s bigger now, but she’s still inspiring people she meets. Life on three legs is just as sweet as life on four. Elle is proof.

Elle the puppy lying in some grass with tongue out
Photo by Lori Fusaro

Want more puppy love?

Why not open your home to a puppy like Elle in need? Whether you foster or adopt, you’ll get a perfect dose of cuteness.