On August 28, 2016 one of our regional newspapers, the Sun Journal in Lewiston Maine, did a feature on Sasha. The article was written by Lindsay Tice, Staff Writer. The photographer that came to my house was Daryn Slover and the one who photographed  Lucas at his shop,  Beyond Shoe Repair, was Andree Kehn.

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Animal Tales: Shoes for Sasha

Lindsay Tice, Staff Writer

Lewiston-Auburn Sunday, August 28, 2016|

When Sasha took her first steps in her new shoes at the Farmington Farmers Market a few weeks ago, Dottora Quick was moved to tears.

Quick’s 8-year-old German Shepherd had been turning under the toes of her back left paw for a while, the lingering result of a spinal embolism. It took nothing for Sasha to trip and fall when she walked, to cut her knuckles on rocks and scrape her paws on pavement.

But in the Farmer’s Market parking lot, minutes after Lucas Argrew from Beyond Shoe Repair fitted her with a prototype pair of boots he’d specially tailored for her, Sasha got up and walked without trouble. After years of medical problems, it was the first time in a long time that anything had been easy for her.

“Sasha’s just always been my lovably sweet, goofy girl,” Quick said. “Forget her pedigree, Shutzhund training and all of that, she’s just a sweetie. And then all of these “things” happened to her. Every time I turned around it was like, ‘Oh, my God; what’s next?’ Yet she’s met everything head on and  landed on her feet. So seeing her walk perhaps 10 feet in that asphalt parking lot — I was just overwhelmed and began crying.”

They were steps made possible thanks to Argrew — a cobbler who has a lot of experience with corrective shoes for humans but didn’t hesitate when asked to help a dog.

He’s a pet parent himself.

“I really love my animals. They’re a huge part of my family,” he said. “My wife and I don’t have kids; we have pets.”

Sasha’s health problems started in 2011 with a Fibrocartilaginous Embolism, which left her nearly paralyzed. Treatment and physical therapy helped her regain most of her movement. Earlier this year she battled, and is recovering from, sudden blindness.

But “knuckling” was a persistent problem, and in recent months it got worse. Quick bought pair after pair of dog boots — in stores, online and from Canada for up to $50 each — hoping one pair out of 10 would both protect Sasha’s paws and brace her foot enough to lessen the drag. None did.

Quick dubbed the growing unused shoe collection “Sasha’s Boot Emporium.”

Sasha’s favorite trips to the Sandy River near her home became more difficult. She loved to swim and it served as physical therapy for her, but her back paw scraped painfully on the river rocks.

“With the kind of knuckling she had, I wouldn’t be able to take her in the river,” Quick said.

Then Quick read in her local newspaper that Argrew from Beyond Shoe Repair would be at the Farmington Farmers Market. Maybe, she thought, he could help.

At the market, Quick told Argrew about Sasha and asked if he might be willing to tweak a pair of her store-bought boots to fit better. Argrew, who has a rescue dog of his own, said he could do more than that.

“We thought we could kind of up the ante,” he said.

It wasn’t the first time Argrew had been asked to make or fix something unusual. Since opening his shop in Auburn two years ago, he’s worked on equestrian gear, furniture, orthotics, straps for prosthetics and dog leashes.

“We’re ‘Beyond Shoe Repair’ because we do a lot of things beyond just shoe repair,” Argrew said.

But dog shoes? Those were new.  

Argrew spent about five hours turning a pair of Sasha’s boots into prototype custom-fit water shoes, with light-weight canvas uppers, a grippy sole and a padded support strap around her ankle — perfect for navigating the rocky river.

They were the shoes Sasha wore when she took her first successful steps in Farmington.

“When I was standing there that Saturday, crying and dumbfounded, all these people were talking (and) I heard somebody say, ‘Look at that dog’s face; she looks so happy,'” Quick said. “I looked at her face when I heard that and thought, ‘She does look happy!'”

Quick asked Argrew if he could design a second pair, this time for everyday wear. Argrew agreed. These shoes he would make from scratch, contoured to fit a dog’s paw, with calf-skin inner soles, the same rubber soles used on human shoes and a tongue so the shoes could be loosened as needed.

“He is really a creative artisan,” Quick said. “The more I think about it, the more amazed I am.”

At $60 for the improved boots and $130 for the custom-made pair, Sasha’s new shoes were more expensive than the others in Sasha’s Boot Emporium, but they were in line with high-tech dog boots sold by commercial brands.

The first boots Argrew created for Sasha had to be tweaked — her paw sometimes swells, so the left shoe has to be made bigger to accommodate it but Quick has been so delighted by the first model that she’s showed it off to Sasha’s vets, in a video online and plans to post about them in Sasha’s blog.

Argrew said he was happy to have helped Sasha walk easier.

“We just know how important it is to be able to help customers who can’t help themselves,” he said. “(Animals) can’t really tell you what’s wrong, but you can obviously see and try to correct the problems they can’t correct on their own.”

Quick is already thinking ahead for Sasha: snow boots by Argrew.

“If there’s one silver lining in everything that’s happened with Sasha, it’s been finding him,” Quick said, “because I think it’s just going to make such an impact on her quality of life.”

Have an idea for Animal Tales? Call Lindsay Tice at 689-2854 or email her at ltice@sunjournal.com.

August 24, 2016
DARYN SLOVER/SUN JOURNAL

Dottora Quick plays with her German Shepherd, Sasha, at her home in Strong. Sasha wears a custom-fitted corrective boot on her rear leg.

cb-august-24-2016
ANDREE KEHN/SUN JOURNAL

Lucas Argrew, owner of Beyond Shoe Repair in Auburn, works on a pair of custom corrective dog boots for Sasha the German Shepherd.

cb2-august-24-2016
ANDREE KEHN/SUN JOURNAL

Parts of a prototype for a pair of corrective dog boots designed and crafted by Lucas Argrew, owner of Beyond Shoe Repair in Auburn.

August 24, 2016
DARYN SLOVER/SUN JOURNAL

Lucas Argrew of Beyond Shoe Repair made a custom corrective dog boot for Sasha.

 

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