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Jan 20, 2012 5:18 PM

Three-legged dog hangs ten

(NBC) - He runs on his long lanky legs, tail wagging side to side.

Onyx is still trying to find his balance.

You can call it puppy clumsiness, but look a little closer and you'll see he only has three legs.

"He's a whole new dog. You couldn't even imagine that this dog went through what he went through," said Dr. Daniel Slaton, a veterinarian at Los Angeles' Westlake Village Animal Hospital.

Onyx was found in September, tied to a wooden post with a bloody severed leg.

"It literally looked like it had been chopped off with garden shears," continued Slaton. "I remember it distinctly, the night he got here. I didn't think he was going to make it. I thought he was going to pass before I could even go to surgery. He was just so dehydrated, septic, his body was in shock because of the infection on his leg. I had never seen anything like it."

It has been been five months since Dr. Slaton saved Onyx's life by amputating his hind leg.

Slaton fell in love with Onyx and later adopted him.

While Onyx may only have three legs, he is not 'ruffing' it by any means.

"It's the biggest rags to riches story you can get for a dog," explained Slaton.

Onyx is living the life of luxury at The Barkley Pet Hotel and Day Spa.

He spends his time in doggy day care and taking surfing lessons.

"When I first got with him, I thought, a three-legged dog surfing?" said Larry Brambles, Onyx's Surf Dog Handler.

It turns out, Onyx has incredible balance.

"He is such a happy dog now, running and jumping and wagging his tail. He just can't wait to get into the water," continued Brambles.

When Onyx isn't preparing to paddle out to sea, the pampered pooch is turning his story of survival into something much bigger.

He is training to be a therapy dog so he can be a companion for people with disabilities.

"We thought he would be a good story for kids who have lost limbs and are handicapped. There is a brighter side and you can actually live and have a good quality of life," explained Slaton.

The man who Animal Control officers say amputated Onyx's leg took a plea deal in court.

Alberto Castenada was sentenced to one year in jail.

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