Swimmer Syndrome Puppy Stands Up On All Fours On Her Own, Despite Her Disability


Starfish was a mere 10 weeks old when she was abandoned in a cardboard Heineken box on the coasts of Alameda beach. A passerby discovered the puppy in the box and brought her to the Alameda Animal Shelter located in Alameda, California. It was there where shelter staff discovered that the pup could not walk on her own unlike normal puppies, as her legs kept splaying outwards. The German Shepherd pup could not sit on her hind legs or move much – she was mostly stationary and could only lie flat on her tummy.

“Her organs are so collapsed, we’re surprised she can even still breathe,” the consulting vet told the staff about Starfish. The vet’s recommended decision was to euthanize her. However, shelter staff did not want to give up just like that, and decided to get a second opinion from another vet, who diagnosed Starfish with Swimmers Pup Syndrome. It’s a troubling genetic condition, but the good news was that its completely curable.

Syndrome Puppy

Later on, Starfish became a little too old for rehabilitation. Shelter staff turned to the Holistic Veterinary Care in Oakland for help – and with donations pouring in from kind-hearted souls everywhere, Starfish was soon able to afford the medical care she needed.

Syndrome Puppy

Under Dr. Gary Richter, Starfish got a hernia operation along with intensive therapy sessions. The therapy sessions involved the realignment of Starfish’s legs and building up enough muscle strength for her legs to support her body weight. Starfish also wore a full body wrap during that period. Being the clever dog that she is, Starfish eventually taught how to support herself with the assistance of a bolster!

Treats were used as a form of encouragement for Starfish, to motivate her to improve her movements and to sit up properly. A water treadmill and a set of braces were also fitted and made available for her recovery period.

As Starfish improved and nearly completed her rehab program, a foster family had very kindly offered to take her in! Since fostering her, the family fell in love with the German Shepherd, and has even made Starfish a part of their family – permanently!

Watch Starfish’s amazing road to recovery in the video below:

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