A sweet little black lab puppy in Sacramento, California was sadly born with a muscular condition that left him unable to walk. Duckie, who is only seven weeks old, was born with a developmental deformity called Swimmer's Syndrome. Also known as "puppy syndrome," "swimmer puppy syndrome," and "flat-pup syndrome," it's a rare deformity in newborn pups and kittens that prohibits them from walking or standing.
What is Swimmer's Syndrome in dogs?
Swimmer's Syndrome is a condition that causes newborn pups' and kittens' hind limbs to spread laterally, which causes them to move in a paddling motion — hence the name.
According to The Mia Foundation, a nonprofit organization that helps animals with birth defects, Swimmer's Syndrome is usually due to weak rear leg muscles.
"The good thing is, with proper care, these puppies can lead a normal life," Peter Falk, DVM, of the New Jersey Veterinary Medical Association told Pet MD.
Thankfully, the condition can be managed through physical therapy, which is exactly what happened for little Duckie. According to Sarah Varanini, a spokeswoman for the SPCA, physical therapy for Swimmer's Syndrome typically involves finding something a pup loves to do and incorporating it into therapy so the puppy is motivated to move.
Duckie Finds Recovery Through Tug-of-War
"The main goal is trying to find something that they enjoy doing, then turn that into therapy that will help them use their muscles and start to orient their bodies in the right formation," Varanini told SF Gate. "For Duckie, that was a combination of playing 'tug-of-war' as well as using his love of other animals to get him up and moving."
"His foster parents also created a type of baby bouncer with wheels that kept him up on all fours and helped him learn to walk," she added.
After just three weeks of physical therapy, Duckie has been able to take his very first steps! And the Sacramento SPCA is calling it a "holiday miracle." Although Duckie is still a bit bow-legged, the staff is hopeful he'll fully recover within the next few weeks. And as long as Duckie keeps improving, he should be up for adoption within the next few months.
“We’ll let you know when he’s ready to start looking for his new home!” members of the SPCA posted on Facebook.
I guess we'll just have to wait and see what lucky family will be able to take him home!