When breeders are faced with a problematic puppy they have a standard solution. Buyers don’t pay top dollar for “defective” pure breeds so breeders get rid of imperfect puppies. This usually means that they are euthanized. When a Neapolitan Mastiff puppy named Willow was born with Swimmer’s Syndrome her breeder considered her a problem that needed a solution.
What is Swimmer’s Syndrome?
Swimmer’s Syndrome, also known as flat pup and turtle pup syndrome, is a rare congenital condition that afflicts newborn dogs and cats. Puppies born with it are unable to walk or even stand. Their chest is flat and their legs splay out making mobility extremely difficult. The only way they can get from place to place is to drag themselves using their limbs like flippers.
Unfortunately, it is often recommended that puppies be euthanized when born with this condition. For a breeder, that is often the decision of choice. Willow’s breeder took a shot on social media first to see if anyone wanted to take her in. Thank goodness for that outreach as it eventually led to her rescue.
The post went viral and was seen by Jennifer Williams, President of 2nd Chances Rescue in Norco, CA. She immediately knew that she wanted to rescue Willow and sprang into action to make it happen. Willow’s condition was dire. Her lack of mobility interfered with her ability to get food and water. Jennifer knew if she didn’t act fast, Willow may perish.
Fortunately, Jennifer had a connection with an animal acuscope therapist named Gina. Acuscope therapy delivers targeted micro-current stimulation to tissues to encourage healing, increase range of motion, and decrease pain. The acuscope has been proven to be highly beneficial to live tissues in gently helping nerve and muscle fibers return to normal conduction of electrical impulses. In other words, this therapy can help nerve and muscle tissues heal themselves.
Within two days of treatment, Willow took her first steps! She continued to make gains while undergoing various therapies. Her chest had to be wrapped and her legs had to be tied into the correct position. She underwent hydrotherapy and continued acuscope therapy. After a few months, Willow was walking, running, and swimming like a champ!
Therapy Has Excellent Outcomes with Swimmer’s Syndrome
Swimmer’s Syndrome is an unfortunate diagnosis but it is not a foregone conclusion that these animals are doomed to immobility. A study published by the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association focused on the case of a miniature schnauzer born with Swimmer’s Syndrome. He was adopted by the author of the study who provided massage and physical therapy at home under the guidance of a medical team. That little fighter achieved complete recovery and was still living a normal, happy life ten years later.
Focused physiotherapy is very successful in returning these pups to completely normal mobility. Thank goodness Willow’s breeder took the time to reach out into the world and the call was received by the caring and capable people of 2nd Chances Rescue.
Willow continued to do great and grew into an 80-pound beauty full of love and life!