Animal Orthocare gets to experience a lot of awe-inspiring moments.

Like traveling to Thailand to build artificial limbs for a pair of elephants named Mosha and Motala.

Or creating prosthetics for horses and donkeys in Bhutan and a ram named Felix in Spain.

But none of our patients have been quite as “awww” inspiring as little 3-and-half-month-old Murphy Urbine.

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Murphy is what his mom Brandy Urbine calls a “Heinz 57 dog.” The Silver Spring resident doesn’t know a whole lot about his pedigree other than that his canine mother is some type of beagle mix and the suspected father could be a lab-pit mix.

He was born on a farm in Florida, the runt of the litter, missing a portion of his back right paw. While puppies can be born with deformities like this, Murphy’s vet thinks the paw was removed either during birth or soon after he was born; sometimes mothers can sever a puppy’s limb while assisting the birthing process.

So how did a little mutt from Florida come all the way to Maryland?

In a backpack, of course.

Here’s the story: Brandy’s kid sister Dominique works at the farm where Murphy was born. Dominique decided that the dog would make the perfect birthday present for Brandy.

Initially, Brandy told her sister thanks, but no thanks. She already had a dog and didn’t want a puppy.

But then Dominique started tugging at her heartstrings, telling Brandy about the puppy’s injured foot.

“But no one will love it. No one will take care of it,” Dominique told her.

Before Brandy knew it, she was buying her sister a plane ticket and little Murphy was loaded into a backpack-like dog carrier for the flight north. He was just 4 pounds.

“He could sit in the palm of your hand,” Brandy said.

The vet told Brandy that she shouldn’t need to do much with the injured leg, except to keep it clean and watch out for infection.

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Even though the doctor didn’t seem worried, Brandy was concerned about the alignment in Murphy’s hips and spine as well as the potential for arthritis down the road. She was doing some online research of her own about caring for three-legged dogs when she found Derrick Campana, CO and Animal Orthocare LLC.

“I figured I’d give is a shot,” she said.

So palm-sized Murphy arrived at Animal Orthocare to get cast for a boot to protect his stump and offer him some stability.

So far, it’s working, Brandy said. With the boot, the puppy has more range of motion. He’s faster and more agile. He more prone to run and jump.

“With boot on, he’s like a bull in the china shop.”

And with pant legs to attack (one of his favorite past times) and his big sister Reggie (another one of Brandy’s Heinz 57 finds) to play with, it’s a good thing Murphy has the extra support.

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Now Brandy and the Animal Orthocare team have to keep up with the still-growing puppy. He’s more than doubled in size since Brandy first took him to the Chantilly, Va. office in late July. He outgrew his first boot in less than a week and Brandy thinks it’s time to replace his second one. Given how quickly Murphy’s needed replacements, Brandy said Derrick’s been accommodating as far as costs go – offering deals on consecutive purchases.

“It’s not an inexpensive proposition,” Brandy said about Murphy’s treatment, but there’s a lot of value in the time Derrick takes to answer questions and troubleshoot.

“The customer service is really good.”

Murphy isn’t the first pet Brandy’s owned that needed a little extra TLC. Years ago, she adopted a shelter dog that was 30 pounds underweight that she needed to rehab and get back up to a healthy weight. There’s a different kind of bond you form with a dog that you’ve had to invest yourself in like that.

But, she says, while watching Reggie and Murphy stalk each other in the yard, there’s no real difference in the joy that either of her dogs bring her today.

Well, there might be a tiny difference.

“Murphy maybe a little more because he’s a puppy and is still pretty goofy.”

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And looking at pictures of sweet, little Murphy, we totally awww-nderstand where she’s coming from.

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