Three weeks ago, Harper was so afflicted by a rigor-mortis-like condition that she could barely move. Today, she’s walking almost like a normal dog.
Dog Noticed In Garbage Bag
Just three weeks ago, Erica Daniel steeled herself to make a difficult decision to put a small puppy named Harper, who was in her care, to sleep.
Daniel, 26, fosters dogs that need serious help and little pup Harper came to her with desperate circumstances. The pup was first encountered by a woman in Sanford, Fla. when she spotted a garbage bag that was squirming.
“There was a man outside the Save-A-Lot selling pit-bull puppies for $50 a pop,” Daniel explained. “This woman approached him and noticed a noise coming from a garbage bag he was holding. She asked him, ‘What’s in the bag?’ and he said, ‘Don’t worry about it.’ ”
Puppy Given One Last Night Of Love
As the woman pressed the issue the man opened the bag and gave her the contents. Inside was a deformed puppy that couldn’t walk or even hold up it’s head. When shelter workers and veterinarians saw the puppy, they came to the same conclusion that the dog should be euthanized.
That’s when Daniel, a regular at the local animal shelter, decided to take the puppy home for one full and final day of love and affection. “I had to show her what it was like to be loved,” Daniel said. “I’d planned on taking her home that night, letting her sleep in bed with us, and having her humanely euthanized in the morning.”
What A Difference A Day Can Make
But what a difference a day can make. Today, Harper is alive and thriving. The sweet gray puppy is gaining more mobility each day, astonishing to all including medical professionals.
Harper had been born with a condition called pectus excavatum, commonly known as swimmer puppy disorder. The disorder causes puppies to lie flat on their chests with their legs perpetually splayed out, almost like frogs swimming through water.
“The longer she was like that, the more she stayed in that position,” Daniel said. “It felt like rigor mortis — like her legs might break.”
Safe and sound: Harper the puppy has thrived after receiving personalized attention and care.
A Second Opinion Needed
Harper’s rapid recovery began on that initial day with Daniel. Daniel kept massaging Harper’s muscles, hoping to alleviate some stiffness and pain. Within just a few hours, Harper started lifting her head and looking around. Her front legs became more limber as well, so much so that she tried using them to walk and pull herself around.
Daniel’s reaction: “WHOA.”
At this point Daniel was convinced that this determined little pup needed a second opinion. She canceled her original appointment and made a new one with a veterinarian at the University of Florida. At first, the vet described reasons why Harper may need to be put to sleep including the likelihood of degenerative bone disease, brain abnormalities and a severe heart murmur. They decided to do a few tests to be sure.
As it turned out, her condition was not as bad as previously thought. Her organs were functioning fine, she had no heart murmur or serious brain abnormalities. The condition she did have required treatment, but thankfully nothing that warranted putting her to sleep.
Hydrotherapy and massage actually build on that instinct for a dog to move
Harper Responded Remarkably Well
Hip Dog Canine Hydrotherapy & Fitness in Winter Park, Fla., heard about Harper and generously donated free hydrotherapy and massage therapy to the puppy. Harper responded so well that before long she was actually walking.
“She started out on grass, then carpet, then concrete,” Daniel said. “She still can’t walk on tile or hardwood floors, but she’s getting there.”
Bev McCartt, a Hip Dog therapist, explained that swimming has helped teach Harper what her natural gait should be.
“Her brain kicked in and by the end of her first session, she was like, ‘Oh, I can do this,’ ” McCartt said. “She’s a walking miracle. She’s a real testament to a dog’s determination to get up and just go.”
Harper has been holding her own and playing happily with the seven other dogs at Erica Daniel’s home.
Lovable Puppy May Be Ready For Adoption Soon
Today, Harper is about 11 weeks old, and she’s holding her own playing with the other dogs at Daniel’s home. Harper should be ready to be adopted in about a month that is if Daniel can part with her.
“Right now we’re saying that eventually she’ll be available for adoption because we haven’t made any decisions,” Daniel said. “If I give her up, that will make it possible for me to foster another dog. But she’s like a baby to me. I just don’t know!”
Based on a story by today.msnbc.msn