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Lancaster native featured on "Wizard of Paws"


by Tara Giles
Sports reporter - Coos County Democrat and Berlin Reporter

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Kaitlin Wood and Derrick Campana pose with Pemberly during the filming of "Wizard of Paws" last Sunday. (Courtesy Photo) (click for larger version)
December 02, 2020
BEECHER FALLS, Vt. — Twenty-four-year-old Kaitlin Wood, formerly of Lancaster, now living in Beecher Falls, VT, was recently featured along with her dog, Pemberly on a unique TV show. "Wizard of Paws." features Derrick Campana, who creates artificial limbs for animals in need. He gives those animals unable to stand or walk, the gift of mobility.

The show is featured on BYU TV, a television channel founded in 2000, owned and operated as part of Brigham Young University. The channel is available through cable and satellite distributors.

Many locals recognize Wood's name, as her parents, Denise and Eddie Wood, ran Colonel Town Recreation for 20 years.

Wood was chosen to appear on an upcoming episode of the second season, which will air early next year. She explained a bit about the show.

"The show revolves around a man named Derrick Campana, who is famous for building customized braces and prosthetics for special needs animals. He has helped a wide variety of animals, including dogs, cats, goats, sheep, pigs, cows, ducks, and even an elephant," she said.

"My dog Pemberly has a severe leg and hip injury, so I was thrilled when she was chosen for the show," she added.

Last Sunday in Benson, Vt., Wood filmed the show with Campana and her family at the Kinder Way Sanctuary Farm. Woods reports that Pemberly is already moving around better with her new brace.

Pemberly was adopted by Wood in 2019 from a rescue shelter called Peace and Paws out of Hillsborough. She says the shelter wasn't exactly sure of Pemberly's age, but estimated that she was two or three years old at the time, making her roughly five years old today.

Wood explained that life wasn't always easy for her dog.

"Unfortunately for Pemmy, she had a hard life before she was rescued. I learned that she was emaciated, had probably been left on a chain outside all day (there is a spot on her neck where the hair has never fully grown back in from the chain), and they believe that she must have finally wiggled loose from the collar one day and ran out into the middle of the street, where she was hit by a car," said Wood.

As a result of the accident, Pemberly ended up with a broken femur, broken pelvis, dislocated hip and extensive nerve damage that left her partially paralyzed in her backside. The shelter had to fundraise to pay for multiple surgeries.

"She ultimately regained feeling in her back right leg, but her left leg and hip never completely healed, so up until the last week, Pemmy has always had to wear a boot on her paw to help her move around, though her mobility is definitely limited and the boot causes calluses on the top of her paw. Once I learned about Pem's backstory and the extent of her injuries, I knew that I wanted to adopt her, since I love special needs animals. My previous dog, Molly, had three legs—also known as a 'tri-pawd'— and once she passed, I hoped to find another dog with a disability," said Wood.

She went on to explain how she was cast in the show. Scrolling through Facebook, Wood noticed a casting call for the second season of the show, shortly after Pemberly was supposed to have her leg amputated.

"Unfortunately, a last-minute X-ray revealed that Pemmy's hip damage had gotten worse, so our vet said that amputation was off the table and that there wasn't much we could do to help her except try to acquire a special type of brace that would be customized to her specific injury and wouldn't further irritate the top of her paw, which was obviously difficult to find," said Wood.

She added, "So as you can imagine, it was serendipitous to see the casting call flyer, and after sending in pictures of Pem and writing about her story, I was asked to participate in several Zoom interviews and phone calls with producers. Pem was ultimately chosen to appear in one of the upcoming episodes in the next season, which will air sometime early in 2021."

Wood says she was very impressed with how quickly Campana was able to figure out exactly what her dog needed.

To that, she said, "Her injury is very specific and requires a special solution, so the fact that he was able to design a brace that accommodated her unique needs was both incredible and a true lifesaver for her. It's been less than a week since filming ended, and already I have noticed small yet significant changes in Pemberley's mobility."

She explained that since wearing the brace, Pemberly can bend her leg enough to go to the bathroom like a normal dog, and was able to walk on slippery surfaces without falling.

"I cannot even begin to express how wonderful it is to see her be able to act like a 'normal' dog again," said Wood happily.

The filming has a bit of a side story of it's own, given the pandemic. Wood said the crew took several precautions, including requiring everyone to test negative before filming, as well as enforcing mandatory mask wearing for all participants. In addition, the filming took place outside.

"I must admit that I was surprised by how natural the filming process was. I had mistakenly assumed that the crew would have artificial scenarios set up ahead of time or perhaps ask us to repeat ourselves or re-film moments if something didn't happen perfectly the first time, but in reality, the crew just filmed the action as it happened and let things progress naturally," said Wood.

Wood was asked several leading questions during filming such as, "How do you feel right now?" "What do you want to say to Derrick?" "Do you think a door has been opened for Pemmy because of this brace?" Apart from that, Wood says the filming unfolded organically.

She said, "I was also surprised to learn from the producer that out of every 60 minutes of footage, they usually only use about 10 percent of that, so a large amount of content often gets left on the editing room floor. Overall, it was a great experience, and I am super grateful to Derrick and the entire crew, all of whom were super nice and tried to put me at ease throughout the process."

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