Issue 122 – Dan Dan the Tripod – a Dog of Miracles

Dan Dan enjoys a walk in the rooftop garden at the Tsing Yi Centre. (Shot by IG: @thevisuallabo)

“Her ability is greater than her disability,”

Dan Dan’s mum, Anabelle

From three legs to hiking Hong Kong’s Big Four – a specially-abled dog’s journey to her happy ever after

Dan Dan was rescued with her family from a water catchment by the SPCA inspectors at just a few weeks old with a bad injury to her left hind leg. After her initial check by the SPCA vets, it was determined that the leg would need to be amputated. Two days after her surgery, she was placed in foster care with an experienced foster, Q Ma.

“While she was still at the SPCA, she had grown attached to her pillow, which said ‘Bo Ying Compound’.” Bo Ying Compound, also known as Bo Ying Dan, is an ancient formula marketed to treat infants and children for colds. The pillow was like Dan Dan’s security blanket and Q Ma took the pillow home with them when they collected Dan Dan. The last character of the product name is “Dan”, which is where the inspiration for Dan Dan’s name came from.

“It represents the magic pill that will grant her health and well-being. That’s why I decided to name her Dan Dan. We hope she will have a healthy life and keep growing strong.”

Foster mum, Q Ma

Although she had just had surgery, the three-week-old puppy, weighing only 670g, was spritely and had a big appetite.

“At the beginning, I was worried about Dan Dan’s mobility. As she grew older and stronger, being a three-legged pup didn’t bother her at all. She can walk, run and go up and down the stairs. She is such an amazing dog.”

When Dan Dan was old enough to return to the SPCA adoption centre to find her new home, she was fortunate enough to catch the eye of her adoptive parents, Anabelle and King.

“We didn’t notice at first that Dan Dan only had three legs as she was curled up sleeping in the kennel when we first saw her,” Anabelle laughs.

“We fell in love with her immediately when she was brought to us inside the playpen. She’s so adorable and playful. We also felt pity as we imagined that Dan Dan might have the least chance of getting adopted among the other dogs at the SPCA because she is a black mongrel ‘with a disability’.”

Sadly, it’s a harsh reality many local shelters face.

Anabelle and King immediately applied for her adoption on the very same day. At three months old, our little three-legged girl found her forever home.

When Dan Dan’s newly adoptive parents were asked if they had any concerns or reservations on adopting a “disabled” dog or a dog with special needs, they replied, “we saw that she is well adapted to her situation. Having said that, we know that accidents in her condition are still very common so we still got her medical insurance and have her annual wellness check.”

Funnily enough, the greatest challenge Anabelle and King faced when they first adopted Dan Dan was that she had a lot of energy!

“She is so playful and always jumping. We have to make sure we do not get her too excited as she might hurt herself – especially when she is jumping.”

After taking Dan Dan on a short hike and seeing how happy she was exploring, sniffing and playing in the dried leaves, Dan Dan’s parents started to do more research on dogs hiking with a tripod and discovered the benefits not only to dogs but also to humans.

They started off with short trails to slowly build up Dan Dan’s strength and stamina. Before they knew it, they had completed two of Hong Kong’s four long trails and other tough hikes around the city with ease.

Anabelle and King hope that one day they will be able to create a long trail for Dan Dan, connecting some of their favorite hikes, tiny islands and country parks.

When asking Q Ma what advice, she would give to someone who is caring for a disabled or special needs dog, she replied, “dogs with special needs may look different from others and their health may require extra care. We need to be positive to support them and embrace their differences because our furry friends can feel our emotions.”

Anabelle echoed a similar sentiment and said, “dogs are very resilient and can easily adapt. At the end of the day, they are just normal dogs, liking what a normal dog would like – walks, treats and lots of love. They are an endless source of inspiration.”

You can follow Dan Dan’s hiking adventures on IG @dandan_the_tripawd

If you would be interested in finding a companion animal of your own or fostering for the SPCA, scan to download the new SPCA Adoption App for updates :

Issue 122 – 2024 MAR – AUG