Rising from a torn ACL and multiple surgeries, in the end a simple knee brace allowed Ozzie to return to comfort a Mom battling dementia.

Ozzie and Harriet...er...

Cecelia and Ozzie have been best friends for the past 11 years.

Not only is the 12-year-old, black Chow mix a lifelong companion to Cecelia, but he’s a great comfort to her mom, who has dementia.

"Sometimes my mom won't remember who I am, but she'll always recognize her dog,” says Cecelia of her mom’s love of Ozzie.

Cecelia moved back home in 1994 to help take care of her ailing mom. Dementia doesn’t just affect one family member — it can take its toll on the whole family. Cecelia says Ozzie has been a great help, with his calming and steadying presence, for all members of her family.

Black dog walking wearing knee brace for torn ACL

Cecelia found Ozzie back in 2004 on a pet-finding website. She drove from just outside of Lincoln, Nebraska all the way to St. Louis, Missouri that Memorial Day weekend. Ozzie was only about 1 1/2 years old then.

Adventure takes a turn

Besides having a therapeutic nature, Ozzie also has an adventurous spirit. On a recent visit to a friend’s house, Ozzie injured his leg playing sand volleyball with the other dogs. When he was trying to get back in the car after the visit, Ozzie whimpered.

While it occurred to Cecelia that it could be hip dysplasia, it turned out that Ozzie had actually torn the ligament in his knee.

Ozzie's veterinarian recommended surgery. Unfortunately, the first surgery was not successful. As a result, a second surgery was performed.

But Ozzie wasn’t out of the woods yet. While he was recovering from his second surgery, he tore the ligament in his other knee. Ozzie then underwent a third surgery to help repair the ligament in that knee.

Cecelia knew she had to do something to help Ozzie. After three surgeries, she had to find some additional support to help him heal properly and avoid further injury. She thought about what is available to humans for similar injuries. Humans often use leg braces. Was something like this an option for dogs?

The knee brace

After some research, she discovered Hero and its dog braces. After Cecelia connected Ozzie's veterinarian, Dr. Pat McInteer at Hillcrest Animal Clinic, with Hero Braces, the company sent a casting kit. Within a few weeks, Ozzie's brace arrived at the door.

Black dog lying down with Hero knee brace

After the brace was placed on Ozzie, he was able to stand up and bear weight on his leg immediately. Within a few hours, Ozzie was almost back to walking normally.

Ozzie is getting up there in years — but don't tell him that — and he is undergoing treatment for arthritis of his toes. He doesn't run as much as he used to, but he is able to go for short strolls and live pain-free.

He continues providing companionship and therapy to Cecelia and her mom. While Cecelia does all she can to help the dog that has given her family so much to live a full, happy life.

(Ozzie’s story was originally posted on June 12, 2015.)