For a dog without much spine, Quasimodo is pretty brave.
The 4-year-old German Shepard has Short Spine Syndrome , an incredibly rare conditionwhere an animal’s vertebrae stay incartilage form instead of hardening into bone. Thevertebrae get compressed, resulting in a much shorter spinalcolumn.
It’s a very, very rare disorder affecting just 14 dogs around the world, including this sweet dog named Quasimodo, who was picked up as a stray in Kentucky and transferred to an animal rescue in Minnesota.
Secondhand Hounds, an animal rescue in Eden Prairie, Minnesota, took Quasi in last week.
Though his back can’t be surgically corrected, Quasiis currently receiving medical treatment for a few ailments, including wounds from an embedded collar and surgical correction fora small deformity in his tail. He’s also getting neutered.
Though Quasimodo’s staturelooks uncomfortable, his spinal condition doesn’t cause him any additional pain. In fact , his mobility is good andcaretakers believe he hasa normal life expectancy. Great news for this happy, pleasant pup.
“Quasi is one of the sweetest, most loving dogs I’ve met, ” said Sara Anderson, large breed foster coordinator at Secondhand Hounds .
“He’s forgiving, he’s a cuddler, and he loves being loved… and giving love in return. ”
While that he awaits a forever home, Quasi is taking it easy and enjoying his brush with fame.
In between snuggles, examinations, and lots of treats, Quasi is alsohelping out with some medical research. Geneticists at University of CaliforniaDavis are using a small vial of hisblood to look for clues to the origins of Short Spine Syndrome. The research may help humans too.
Quasi is living with a foster family while he recovers from his procedures and has his temperament evaluated before a permanent placement. He already has a dedicated Facebook page with over 50, 000 fans, many of whom hope to adopt himand provide a loving forever home.
While Quasi’s story will likely have a happy ending, there are other rescues around the country working to ensure a similar fate for other pets with special needs.
After working at a veterinarian’s office and seeing owners surrender otherwise healthy animals who simply needed surgery or treatment, Jolene Heath, along with her husband Shawn, decidedtofound Heath’s Haven , a specialty rescue for dogs with special needs, particularly spinal injuries and trauma.
In 2015, the couple rescued and provided treatment for 37 dogs in need, providing evaluations from neurologists, appropriate surgeries, wheelchairs, and treatments to aid in their recovery, including physical therapy, acupuncture, and hydrotherapy.
The Heaths are able to rehome a majority of the dogs within their care, but adopting your dog with special needs is not without challenges.
For dogs with spinal injuries and paralysis in particular, “You have to make sure they’re not dragging their legs and getting sores, ” Heath said. “You need to bathe them frequently because they do pee and poop on themselves. They’re kind of like little toddlers running around in diapers. ”
That’s why Heath’s Haven makes sure potential adoptive families know just what they’re getting into. Stairs and decks can be difficult to navigateand owners need to be able to lift up the dog with ease. And since these animals can’t swim, homes with pools are a no-go.
“They live a happy healthy normal life just like any other dog, but you do kindahave to look after them a little more, ” Heath said.
Pets with special needs have so much to offer and desperately need kind, compassionate families.
Whether they have a rare disorder like Quasi’sor require additional accommodationslike the dogs at Heath’s Haven, all pets want one thing: love.
“The dogswe work with have no ideathey are different from any other dog, ” Heath said. “They’re not depressed about their situation. They’re not in pain. They just want to be dogs. ”
“They’re the… underdogs, the ones withchallenges… These are the pets that give love when they have no reason to, ” Anderson said. “I’m hoping that Quasi will become a face of rescue, a face to remind people that there are many animals out there who are still looking for their second chance. ”