Dog Found Alone and Injured Helps Heal Family Grieving Their Beloved Pooch

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Every animal that comes to Dane County Humane Society has a story, many of which we’ll never know.

Last December, a Good Samaritan found Nana lost and injured wandering near Elver Park in Madison. When she arrived at Dane County Humane Society (DCHS), we knew this Pit Bull Terrier mix needed immediate help. One of Nana’s paws was bleeding and swollen. As she limped and avoided using her leg, it was obvious she was in significant pain.

DCHS’s Animal Medical Services (AMS) team took x-rays of Nana and found that, despite her injured paw, the rest of her leg was normal. Since there was no fracture, our veterinarians determined Nana was suffering from Proprioceptive Deficit. This condition meant she had lost most of the sensation in her paw, likely caused by former neurological damage or injury.

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The constant dragging of her paw made Nana susceptible to repeated injuries and infection, as she was unaware of what direction she was placing her paw or what she was stepping on. DCHS’s AMS team made the decision to amputate Nana’s back leg in order to her give the best chance at a happy and healthy life.

While Nana was being treated for a mild infection and waiting for her surgery, she started showing signs of anxiety and stress in her kennel. DCHS’s foster team thought it would be beneficial to move her into a foster home prior to her surgery to have time to relax in a quieter environment. That’s when she made her way into the Smiths’ home.


Julia and Curt Smith began fostering animals in 2018 after they lost their beloved dog, Charlie, one year earlier. Fostering was their way of helping animals in need while also helping the Smiths cope with their own grief.

“After our dog Charlie died, I was having a very difficult time grieving his loss. We had Charlie for 12 years—I missed him terribly. I thought that fostering would help me heal my broken heart as well help animals in need, and we weren’t ready to bring another dog into the home yet,” says Julia.

After Nana’s amputation was successfully performed at DCHS, she returned to the Smiths’ home to rest and recover. Nana soon adjusted to her new three-legged lifestyle, quickly learning how to navigate her surroundings. Nana started coming out of her shell and showed her true personality. Like most pitties, she was silly and playful. As Nana healed and became stronger, so did the Smiths’ love for her.

When it came time for Nana to return to the shelter so she could be adopted, the Smiths realized she had already found her new home with them. Nana was a perfect fit for their family and even their two rescue cats, Frank and Chloe, grew fond of her. Three and a half weeks after she was found homeless and injured, Nana was officially adopted by the Smiths— completing their once heartbroken family.


Fostering gave Nana a much deserved second chance at a happy ending and brought a new sense of purpose to Julia and her family.

“We are living in a world that feels overwhelming right now and I have often felt quite hopeless about how I could make a difference, and then I remember that through our fostering we are making a difference in the lives of animals,” says Julia. “Volunteering at DCHS provides a chance to experience compassion and see the best in people through the care of saving animals.”

Story submitted by Ash Collins.

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