September 10, 2006
Polar and I traveled to Lakewood, Pennsylvania on
September 2, 2006 to partake in the fun and festivities
of Goldstock! This was Polar's fifth year at the camp
and he is looking forward to many more. Goldstock is
always on Labor Day weekend, and it is an entire weekend
of Goldens, shopping, food, and fun.
Everyone who has been in attendance during the last few
years know about Polar. He runs all over camp greeting
all of his old friends, in addition to making new ones.
As he runs by people, I hear them saying, "Is that
Polar? Boy, he looks great. I remember when he couldn't
walk and had to use a wheelchair to get around." He
just smiles and runs by.
the Goldstock in 2002, Polar was just a 16-week-old
baby, and we had a raffle for him to raise funds for an
MRI of his spine. He was in the rescue as a foster dog,
and in the true spirit of Goldstock everyone chipped in
for Polar's care. As it turns out, he was able to get
the MRI, wheelchair, and other care. Since then, though,
Polar has taught himself how to walk and no longer needs
For the 2003 Goldstock, Polar was in his wheelchair. In
2004, though, Polar was racing around like all of the
other dogs. Everyone at Goldstock was so surprised. But,
then in December 2004, Polar had to have his leg
amputated and it was decided he would need a prosthetic
leg. A fundraising raffle was organized by Rochelle
For the 2005 Goldstock, Polar arrived with his new leg,
and raced around like crazy. In 2006 when Polar arrived,
he couldn't wait to race all over camp greeting
everyone. He even went swimming this year, actually
swimming rather than just wading. He had his life jacket
on and swam like a big boy! I am so proud of Polar. He
has achieved so much in his short life.
Hopefully, Polar will continue to attend Goldstock for
many more years to come . . . . for surely, he is a
true Goldstock dog.
Take Me Back for More
September 4, 2005
We just returned from Goldstock. Hope you enjoy our photos.
Polar loves it in the lake. And, doesn't sister Xyla look cool in her
necklace? Boy, did we have fun!
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July 6, 2005
Polar is quite
famous in his hometown, actually getting his face on the cover of his local
newspaper. The caption read: Dogged determination
A heartbreaking dilemma for a Paradise pet owner leads to an unusual and
inspiring solution. Check it out!
Pup with prosthesis Receives, and provides, Genuine comfort
By Fran Pennock Shaw Intelligencer Journal Lifestyle Correspondent,
June 30, 2005
Photos by Deb Grove
Pamela Patton successfully
got an artificial leg
made for her dog Polar; by a designer
human prostheses in Port Jefferson, NY
When Pamela Patton of Paradise, decided that
her 2-year old Golden Retriever needed his rear leg amputated due to an
intractable infection, she also began a search for someone who could fit
Polar with an artificial leg afterward.
It wasn’t easy. Veterinary prostheses are almost unknown-since most pets
adapt well to having only three legs-and few companies make canine models.
But Polar was a unique case. He had taught himself to walk despite being
born with a disability Patton describes as “like muscular dystrophy.” He
always had weak hind legs, weakened even more by 15 months of antibiotics,
surgery and other treatments for osteomyelitis, an infection.
The amputation was done December 13, 2004. Patton found a prosthetics
designer who actually sat in on Polar’s operation, in consultation with
University of Pennsylvania Veterinary Hospital orthopedic surgeon David
“A normal dog would adjust, but Polar’s remaining rear leg is almost
backward and I never thought it would hold up a 55-pound dog,” recalled
Patton. “Amputation was my only option….and he wasn’t going to manage
without a leg.”
Although no veterinarian was able to diagnose or treat Polar’s birth defect,
the dog was active and happy. He even became a registered Therapy Dog
International pet in 2003, working with the elderly and with physically and
learning-challenged children in Lancaster-Lebanon Intermediate Unit 13.
“All his life, he managed. As a pup, he basically dragged his rear end
around,” said Patton, “until he strengthened his back legs some. He’s an
amazing dog. But we thought the infection was going to spread, and he was
already in a lot of pain. Luckily, Dr. Diefenderfer was very open and
enthusiastic about trying the prosthesis, which he’d never done before.”
Marty Mandelbaum, president of M.H. Mandelbaum Orthotic & Prosthetic
Services in Port Jefferson, NY first designed a temporary plastic, and
then a permanent copolymer prosthesis for Polar.
“I was able to take away a bad leg and give him a new one,” Patton said.
“Polar was so different, with all his mobility problems, I didn’t think he
could continue to have a good quality of life if he just lost his leg. For
that one dog who has more severe problems, a prosthesis ought to be
Teacher Chrissy Willwerth, Rebecca
Harper Dodd, Lucas Styes, Rhiannon Flemming
and Pamela Patton shower attention on Polar
during a recent visit to Lancaster Generations.
Polar's other hind leg is covered with a support
Mandelbaum designs human prostheses but also
had made leg braces for dogs, and now has created prosthetic legs for two, a
Rottweiler and Polar, “which have been very successful.” He averages 10
information requests a month about pet prostheses, but adds, “most dogs can
get by well with three legs.”
Creating a prosthetic leg for a dog is “a challenge. You can’t talk to a
dog, so it’s like working with very young children. You must monitor for
blisters and irritation, and be careful the dog doesn’t chew at it.”
Such prostheses range from $700 to $3,000, he
“The thinking (has been) that the technology (for prosthetics) is not around
for animals, so surgeons usually amputate all the way to the shoulder or hip
joint, to be sure to cut out all the infection or cancer. But we do much
better (with a canine prosthesis) when they leave more of a remnant,” he
Diefenderfer, an orthopedic surgeon and senior research associate at Penn’s
Matthew J. Ryan Veterinary Hospital, most often does amputations on dogs for
bone tumorsa standard treatment for that aggressive cancer.
“An owner often has to deal with the shock that the dog has a malignant
tumor and has to lose a leg,” he said. “Some resist. But I’ve never seen a
dog, personally, who did not adjust to an amputation.”
Complex limb-sparing procedures are also infrequently done, to graft on new
bone, augment with metal plates or even grow new bone tissuealthough these
are expensive and risky procedures, usually for special cases. What Diefenderfer had never done until Polar came along was an amputation with a
“Usually we take the limb completely,” he said, for cosmetic and practical
reasons, such as keeping the dog from chewing on the stump or lessening the
chance of cancer spreading.
“But if a dog has a tumor in the front leg and sever hip dysplasia, for
example or; like Polar; has compromised neuromuscular ability in his two
back legs, we need to ask if he can cope with an amputation. With Polar; it
didn’t take much to convince us to try a prosthesis.”
Diefenderfer still believes canine prostheses are “rarely” needed.
“Obviously, we’re open to that kind of thing now, but were remarkable lucky
He said a prosthesis can work “if a combination of things” are right,
including the dog’s physical condition and personality. It’s important
that Marty was willing to take on the challenge and Pam’s commitment to the
dog was so great.”
Today, Polar mostly wears his fake leg only in public. Although he chewed
off the harness that held his first post-op prosthesis, the final prosthesis
is held tight with a suction attachment and takes a few minutes to attach or
“We use it when going for a walk, if he’s going to be with other dogs, or in
any physical activity outside the house,” said Patton. At home, he gets
along on three legs, but she added, “he can’t run around like a maniac
without his prosthetic on. It would just do too much damage to his remaining
Polar still undergoes aquatherapy at Paradise Pet Therapy and Rehabilitation
in Catonsville, MD and gets massages at home.
Meanwhile in his own therapy work with children, Polar is a naturalboth
before and after his amputation and prosthesis.
“He shows children that you can be different have a limp or funny leg or be
in a wheelchair or whateverand not let it stop you from doing what you want
to do,” Patton concluded.
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