FALL RIVER, Mass. (AP)- A quadruped is a four-legged animal.
A dog is a quadruped because a dog has four legs.
Callie Mae is most definitely a dog - a big, tongue-lolling, tail-wagging black Labrador retriever. But while nature intended her to be four-legged, fate gave her a hard push in another direction.
"She's 8 years old," said Kathleen Easterbrook, part owner of Atlantic Prosthetic & Orthotic, 1119 State Rd., Westport, a place where a variety of people come for the fitting and maintenance of everything from artificial legs to braces.
Which is where Callie Mae comes in.
"She's a comfort dog," Easterbrook said.
Easterbrook got her from a shelter in Boston. Callie Mae was hit by a car when she was 3, and her shattered, unusable leg dragged after her.
Now, there is only a smooth patch of dark fur where one of Callie Mae's front legs was. She gets around fine, hopping a bit but happy and healthy.
A comfort dog's job is just what it sounds like. The dog provides comfort to people in an uncomfortable situation.
"We always have a comfort dog here," Easterbrook said.
Easterbrook said searching for such a dog is arduous.
"We have to have a dog you can do this to," she said, waving her hands rapidly in front of Callie Mae's face. Callie Mae greeted the action with good humor.
"And the dog has to be big enough for children with braces to lean on," Easterbrook said.
Callie Mae doesn't do much that's really marvelous but what she does, she does well.
"She's trained to go up to people in wheelchairs and put her head in their laps," Easterbrook said.
The patients love it, and Easterbrook said patients with severe developmental disabilities are particularly drawn to the dog.
"She doesn't care if you can walk or talk," Easterbrook said. "What she offers is unconditional acceptance."
"A lot of the children who come here, they go to a lot of doctors. But when they come here, they don't feel like they're going to the doctor. They're going to see the dog."
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