Starfish was set to be euthanized when she got a last-minute reprieve.
Just 10 weeks old, the puppy had been abandoned on the beach in a Heineken box. Splayed out and unable to walk, all 4 paws out at her sides, vets assumed the dog had been crushed and would never walk – even her organs were flat.
They assumed that it would be far more humane to put her down than to make her live a life in which she wouldn’t be able to move or would die painfully of organ failure.
Luckily, a vet came in for a second opinion and noticed that it was no accident that caused her condition – it was “swimmer’s syndrome.”
A long recovery
Swimmers syndrome is a rare developmental deformity in which limbs are splayed laterally, making it impossible to stand or walk normally. Dogs and cats with the condition had been considered untreatable until relatively recently. But now we know that with intense physiotherapy and splinting of the limbs, they can recover.
But it’s a lot of work for both dogs and owners.
Thankfully, good samaritans have stepped in to help and donate money to her recovery which first involved a hernia operation, then intensive therapy to realign her legs and build muscle strength.
On the mend
Puppies are resilient. And if hardship is all they’ve ever known, they manage to adjust.
Starfish responded to all of the treatments she was given and was a very good sport about learning to support herself and walk. She even tolerated the harnesses, bolster, and water treadmills that aided in her recovery.
And she never gave up. Even when she tried to go down the stairs for the first time and stumbled, she got right back up and tried again. She knew she could do it.
After a few months, she was up and around!
It was a little awkward at first, but things were moving in the right direction.
Lots of love
Of course, she had a loving foster family to care for her and they felt nothing but lucky to have the dog in their lives.
Starfish developed a special relationship with the family’s 5-year-old – coming out of her shell even more (especially when he was trying to eat french fries!).
When it came time to find Starfish a forever home, a woman named Leigh Anne Gray was thrilled to take home the spunky German Shepherd.
Of course, there were setbacks. After two months on her feet, she needed yet another surgery – this time for severe hip dysplasia.
In fact, Gray had kept a close relationship with the rescue that had taken charge of the dog’s initial rehabilitation, the nonprofit Friends of the Alameda Animal Shelter (FAAS). FAAS covered the costs of the surgeries AND the follow-up care, to the tune of $10,000. Luckily, those following her story were happy to donate to a GoFundMe set up for Starfish.
She’s now living her best life!
Gray has now set up an Instagram account to chronicle her adventures – and boy does she looks like she’s having fun!
Be sure to scroll down below to see some of the recovery process Starfish had to endure in her first years of life. It’s sad but inspiring!
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