Owner, dog share bond over prosthetic legs

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It may have been fate that brought a Pinellas County woman and her new dog together. It may have been a coincidence. But whatever it was, it’s clear Maja Kazazic and her Great Dane puppy, Rosie, were destined for each other.

Kazazic adopted Rosie Thursday afternoon in Fort Myers and, on her way to her Palm Harbor home, talked with FOX 13 about how the two share a common story.

"I saw what happened to her and literally fell in love. It was like the other half of me," she said. "I've wanted a Great Dane since I was like- five-and-a-half years old."

When Kazazic was that young, she was living in war-torn Bosnia. Then, at 16 years old, she was nearly killed.

"A bomb landed and killed all of my friends instantly. I was severely injured," she said.

As she lay on what she thought was her death bed, her leg got infected and doctors had to amputate part of it.

Then something unexpected happened: A stranger rescued her. Kazazic eventually made it to the United States, where she's lived ever since.

Rosie, meanwhile, was born 16 months ago and, shortly afterward, the dog's mother stepped on the puppy's leg, breaking it.

Rosie's leg also got infected, forcing veterinarians to amputate a portion of it. Her then-owner wanted the dog put down.

Instead, she too would eventually be saved by a stranger -- Maja Kazazic.

"I felt this instant kinship because, one, I have this affinity for things that are rescued," she said. "Being a rescued person myself, someone who should have died, it was really an instant connection."

…A connection made possible by Winter the Dolphin.

When Kazazic met the famous dolphin in 2009, she learned about the Hanger Clinic, which is the company that developed Winter's prosthetic tail. Hanger eventually also developed Maja's own prosthetic leg.

The company recently got a call from a veterinarian treating Rosie.

"He knew that Hanger Clinic worked design on the dolphin tail for Winter and asked, 'can you guys make a prosthetic leg for a dog?', and I said, 'Absolutely’," said Peter DiPaolo, a clinician with Hanger.

DiPaolo said he immediately saw a similarity between Winter and Rosie.

"They're both kids when they first were fit, and we're going to see her all along the way. I think maybe she even has a personality like Winter," he said.

It wasn't long before DiPaolo contacted Kazazic about the dog.

"He said, 'you got to meet Rosie, you guys would be perfect', and I said, 'who's Rosie?',” explained Maja. “He said, 'she's a Great Dane that wears a prosthetic leg’,” Maja said.

Kazazic said the dog will eventually grow to as much as 135 pounds. She said veterinarians have told her dogs that big can have trouble balancing on three legs and prefer to try to use a prosthetic leg, if possible.

The dog's new owner is excited to see what's next for her and her new friend.

"I'm really much happier to see what she's going to teach me and how she's going to change my life."