OPT, Vet Tech Programs Work to Give Dog a New “Leash” on Life

The Joliet Junior College Orthotics and Prosthetics (OPT) program, with the assistance of Veterinary Technology are helping to give one friendly pup a new “leash” on life.

Woodie and his parents, Jenn and David Grelck
Woodie and his parents, Jenn and David Grelck.

Woodrow, who also goes by Woodie, is a blue nosed pit-bull who at 5-weeks old lost both of his hind paws from trauma caused by another animal. The JJC Veterinary Technology and OPT programs are working to fit Woodie with prostheses or leg braces on his hind legs so he can live a normal life.

Woodie was brought to the Will County Humane Society after he was found in a forest preserve in the Joliet area. Veterinarians, concerned about his quality of life, thought it best to have Woodie put down. The shelter manager disagreed and decided to contact a couple of friends, Jenn and David Grelck, to see if they would take in the puppy.

The Grelcks couldn’t say no. Woodie’s care required changing his bandages twice a day and taking him to laser therapy at a veterinary clinic. It was there the couple learned of the OPT program at JJC, which has helped other animals in the past. After some research, Jenn connected with Mike Brncick, the OPT program coordinator, who invited Woodie to campus.

“Dr. Brncick’s class was willing to work with Woodrow on trying to create a custom prosthetic. For us as pet parents and having no idea where to start this was a godsend,” said Jenn.

Christina Bunde, one of the JJC OPT students helping Woodie, is grateful for the hands-on experience.

“Working with Woodie has prepared me for a career in the OPT field because it gives me a better understanding that not every patient or every situation will be by the book, not all patients are going to be the same. Being able to think outside the box and know what you need to achieve is what’s going to make you successful,” said Bunde.

JJC’s Veterinary Technology program was then brought in to take x-rays to help fit the prosthetic devices.

X-rays being taken of Woodie's hind paws.
X-rays being taken of Woodie's hind paws.

“The combination of the JJC Orthotics and Prosthetics Technology and Veterinary Technology Departments is opening new opportunities for Woodrow that he otherwise would have never had,” said Jenn.

The biggest challenge for everyone helping Woodie is his rapid growth. Because he is still a young dog, he is growing quickly and what works for him one week may not work the next.

This is an ongoing work in progress and we appreciate all their time and care,” said Jenn.

The Grelcks aren’t sure how much pain Woodie is in, if at all, so they are hoping that this experience leads him to have a happy and healthy life.

“For the two of us, we don’t have children so our dogs are our children and like any other parent we just want to give our children the best possible life,” said Jenn.

Woodie still has to undergo a surgery and some more fittings before he will get the chance to run on his new “paws," but the students are enjoying every moment they get to spend with him.

Woodie is always excited to come to JJC and be spoiled with all the attention. It’s amazing to see how much he changes each time we meet. He is such a sweet, loving dog and having the chance to make something for Woodie than can give him more support and walk better is one of my favorite parts,” said Bunde.

For media inquiries contact Communications and Media Coordinator Scott Harvey at 815-280-2844 or sharvey@jjc.edu.