I. The Rescue
When people see our Siberian Husky Neo, they often compliment us on his striking blue eyes, mischievous grin, and overly friendly demeanor. Inevitably, the conversation always leads to where we got him.
Neo is a rescue dog, in every sense of the word. Our path crossed his three years ago when, on a rainy autumn day, my dad was driving to work. Out of nowhere, he saw a flash of white fur dart across the busy highway. Moments later, he heard a piercing screech from the car in front of him and a loud thud. Before my dad could register the scene, the car had already driven off.
Realizing that something awful had just happened, my dad pulled over into the brush to investigate. There, lying in some bushes, he came upon a whimpering Siberian Husky puppy that could not have been more than a year old. My dad still tells me about the heart wrenching and helpless look the puppy gave him with his big blue eyes. Upon closer examination, my dad saw that the puppy’s right hind leg had been completely shattered from the car’s impact. Immediately, he looked for a collar/name tag so he could notify the puppy's owner but he didn't have one on. Knowing that time was of the essence, my dad gently scooped up the puppy and rushed off to the local animal shelter less than a block away, believing they would be able to provide the puppy with emergency care.
My dad would soon learn that he was sadly mistaken; the shelter had some strict policies that he was unaware of. In essence, they refused to operate on the puppy’s shattered leg and would only provide him with pain meds until he was either claimed by the owner or seven days had passed (whichever came first). Furthermore, now that he had been brought in, they would not allow my dad to take the puppy back, even to a veterinary clinic for treatment, because he was considered "unclaimed personal property". Finally, they informed my dad that there was no alternative but to wait, even if the puppy was suffering and fighting for his life.
When my dad came home that day and told us about what had happened, our entire family joined him in worry. We checked on the puppy everyday for the next week. As each day passed, we were disheartened to learn that nobody came for him or even inquired about a missing Siberian Husky puppy. On the morning of the seventh day, we went straight to the animal shelter and signed the paperwork to formally adopt the puppy. We named him "Neo", which means "new" in Greek, since he was the newest addition to our family. By then, we knew he was extremely fragile, and had already lined up emergency surgery for his leg at a nearby veterinary clinic.
II. The Battle
When we brought Neo to the clinic, the veterinarian's initial recommendation was amputation of the shattered leg. According to him, Neo had lost significant amounts of blood and his broken leg had atrophied over the past week. Though we respected the veterinarian's opinion, we did not have the heart to amputate his leg. We wished for Neo to run on all four legs again. After all, huskies, more than any other dog breed, are born to run for miles and miles. Despite the fact that we knew chances for surgical success were low and the associated costs would be high, we insisted on doing reconstructive surgery on Neo’s broken leg.
While we prayed for his healthy recovery, we were saddened to learn at Neo’s post-operative check up that his “happily ever after” had a long ways to go. Maybe it was due to the delayed surgery, or maybe the initial trauma from the accident was too severe, but the initial surgery was unsuccessful. The metal implant had shifted out of his joint and, as a result, the bone could not properly fuse together. The veterinarian, once again, recommended amputation. Still, we had hope that that Neo would have the chance to run with his four legs again.
Three weeks after the first surgery, a second surgery was performed on Neo. This time, to improve Neo's chances to make a full recovery, we opted to keep him at the clinic around the clock and arranged for extensive physical therapy. Unfortunately, while the surgery itself went well, we got some devastating news at his next check-up. Due to Neo’s open wounds and the extensive use of antibiotics to augment his recovery, he had become immuno-compromised and developed an aggressive bone infection. As a consequence, Neo's bones would neither form nor fuse, meaning that the second surgery had also failed. This time, the veterinarian told us that the only option we had left, other than amputation, was to speak with a specialized veterinarian who was board certified in orthopedic surgery. Not willing to give up on Neo, we took him to one of nation’s leading orthopedic surgeons the same day.
While we hoped for the best, our initial consultation with the surgeon was discouraging. After evaluating Neo's condition, the surgeon gave us our two options: first, to amputate Neo’s leg and the second, to perform a complex bone grafting procedure. We were advised that, because of the previous two failed surgeries and the recurring infection, the chances of a having a successful third surgery was very slim and would be astronomically expensive. The surgeon, seeing the concern and disappointment in our faces, sat us down in his office to commend our efforts thus far. He then began to explain the process of bone remodeling in dogs so we could better understand the complications that had occurred.
During the consultation, the surgeon observed our familiarity with his medical jargon and asked about our professional background. It was then that he learned that my dad is a globally recognized medical microbiologist/immunologist with over 30 years of research experience in health science. His scientific work is focused on the identification, isolation and purification of bioactive compounds with applications in medicine and healthcare. Interestingly, one of the technologies he developed is a patented bone health product that has been clinically proven to promote healthy bone turnover in humans. It would soon become evident that his expertise would play a role in Neo's recovery process.
III. The Victory
Even after our consultation with the surgeon, where he warned us that Neo's chances to walk on four legs did not look promising, we opted for a third surgery. Post orthopedic surgery, veterinarians often recommend glucosamine or chondroitin supplements for dogs with joint and movement issues. Neo's surgeon was no different. But when we began to inquire about supplement options, it became apparent that most available products focused solely on joint health, and none addressed BOTH bone and joint health. It was then that we had a novel idea to develop a new product; one that would integrate certain elements of our patented human bone health technology into a canine-specific complex for Neo to take to support his recovery process. The surgeon, after reviewing the published research and clinical studies supporting our human bone health technology, agreed to the inclusion of the complex to Neo’s post-operative regimen.
The process of reformulating our existing human bone health technology into a new complex that was tailored to canine physiology required extensive research and development. Our team of scientists and doctors had to modify components and ratios of the core technology to meet the specific demands of the canine skeletal system. In addition, the complex was fortified with certain bone co-factors, minerals and antioxidants. In combination, the complex would promote formation of healthy bone tissue, support healthy joint flexibility and function, and help protect against free radicals that cause bone tissue damage. Finally, we consulted closely with veterinarians, reviewed clinical and scientific literature, and referenced regulatory guidelines to ensure that the complex would pose no harm to Neo. Upon completion, Neo was given two doses of the complex, every morning and every evening.
Fortunately, the saying “third time’s a charm” proved to be true for Neo. Six weeks after his third surgery, we received the wonderful news we had been anticipating for so long. Neo’s operation was successful and he was expected to make a full recovery. The surgeon was so pleased with Neo's progress that he insisted on making the complex available to all of his patients. We never planned on marketing the complex; we just did our best to help our dog. But after consideration, we decided to develop a commercial version of the complex. In honor of Neo and his courageous fight, the new product, BONEO®, was named after him. Also, just so he would never go unnoticed again, we put Neo’s smiling face on every bottle.
A year and several case studies later, we perfected the formula and launched BONEO Canine®, a revolutionary bone and joint supplement for dogs. While the base complex remained the same as what we had given to NEO, we tweaked the formula to address issues such as palatability (natural flavors), delivery form (chewable tablets), shelf life and dosage (clinical and maintenance strength formulas).
Today, Neo is a happy, healthy dog living in sunny California with our family. He loves to run on all four legs and has energy that’s almost impossible to keep up with. He still takes BONEO Canine® every day.