Plastic Prosthesis Helps Hudson the “Railroad Puppy” Live a Better Life


Hudson is an energetic 4-year-old pit bull mix. He has a great life—he loves going for runs with his owner, Richard Nash, and serving as a therapy dog for people in need.

It wasn’t always like this. Hudson survived a horrific ordeal: at the age just three months, he was discovered in upstate New York on train tracks, abused, all legs injured, with one paw nailed to a wooden railroad tie.

Fortunately, Hudson was rescued. His story touched many, and he became known as the “railroad puppy.” But his injuries led veterinarians to amputate one of his paws. Hudson’s chances of regaining full mobility were slim.

After adopting Hudson, Richard started looking for a way to improve Hudson’s mobility, such as a prosthesis that would help support the puppy’s leg and let him run again.

Then Richard found Derrick Campana.

An expert in veterinary prosthetics and orthotics, Derrick has grown his business, Animal Ortho Care, into a worldwide practice that develops advanced prostheses for a wide variety of animals—from goats to turtles to elephants. Like Hudson, some of the animals Derrick helps have suffered devastating injuries, such as elephants injured by land mines in Thailand that need large prostheses to support themselves and heal.

Sadly, the need for veterinary prosthetics and orthotics is large—Derrick estimates that his practice treats an average of 200 animals every month.

After meeting Richard and Hudson, Derrick began designing and building a prosthetic device to help Hudson regain his mobility. Success would require a prosthesis that was comfortable, lightweight, and extremely durable to help Hudson once again walk and run. If all went well, Hudson would adjust to the prosthesis as if it were an extension of his own body.

To improve the quality of life for Hudson and other animals, Derrick relies on high-performance materials, including medical-grade polypropylene and polyethylene plastics. These plastics enable him to craft and mold prostheses that contour to the shape of an animal’s body, while being sturdy enough to provide reliable support for many years. The plastics also help make prostheses more affordable, which is important to many pet owners without insurance to cover veterinarian care.

After developing numerous prototypes, the moment of truth finally arrived. Derrick carefully fitted the custom prosthesis—a hard outer plastic shell, a durable plastic tread, and a soft, cushioning plastic foam interior—onto Hudson’s leg.

Hudson’s response? He looked up at Richard and Derrick, took a few tentative first steps … and then he took off running. And he simply didn’t want to stop.

From the time they met, Derrick had a feeling there was something special about Hudson. “Hudson had the desire,” Derrick said. “He had the will. He wanted to walk again. He wanted to run. When we put on that prosthesis, he did just that.”

Hudson still is known as the “railroad puppy.” He also is known as Hudson the therapy dog to many people who struggle in various ways. And he’s now becoming widely known as a symbol for overcoming adversity—with the help of Richard’s love, Derrick’s passion, and a plastic prosthesis that allows him to walk and run, to once again live an authentic dog’s life.

To learn more about how plastics help make advanced prosthetics possible, click here.