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Mick the Boston Terrier Learns to Walk

Mick, Boston Terrier With 'Swimmer Puppy Syndrome,' Learns to Walk

Though everyone thought he would never walk, Mick beat the odds in this touching tale from our partner Yahoo Shine.

When Mick, a puppy born with swimmer syndrome, a condition that causes dogs' legs to be splayed so they can't walk, arrived at Sue Rogers's home in Upstate New York earlier this month, she says she wanted to cry.

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Although she started the Mia Foundation to rehabilitate dogs and cats born with birth defects — animals who would otherwise be euthanized — Mick seemed like an especially tough challenge. "I couldn't fathom how I was going to help him." The 6-week-old Boston Terrier could only lie flat on his chest and watch the other puppies, unable to stand up even to relieve himself. Now, a mere two weeks later, Mick is romping in the grass, and Rogers describes him as "the leader of the pack."

Read on to learn more about this touching story.

She began posting daily progress reports on the foundation's Facebook page and a video on YouTube titled "Amazing Mick-Must see to believe!" that has now been viewed nearly 200,000 times. The video charts the little guy's progress through therapy and shows him in a special harness to help him stand, working on strengthening his limbs by swimming in the bathtub, and finally, taking his first tentative but eager steps (in a clip set to the "Rocky" theme song, no less). He's the little puppy who could.

"In late June, I received an email from a breeder in Oklahoma asking me if I could help him try to figure out what was wrong with one of his two puppies. He wasn't acting like his sibling," Rogers recounted. After a bit of research, she concluded that the dog suffered from pectus excavatum, a deformity of the ribs and sternum, which usually leads to lung and heart damage as well as the inability to walk. She told the breeder that he needed to started working with the puppy immediately and without intervention, these dogs can die within a matter of months or even weeks. "Four weeks later he emailed and said he couldn't do this."

As soon as Mick arrived on July 16, Rogers swaddled him up like a newborn baby to help his limbs align correctly. She and her veterinarian mapped out a treatment plan that would include six hours of therapy a day. It may sound like a lot, but Rogers is used to the time commitment. She feeds her rescue puppies with cleft palates every two hours around the clock.

Rogers is often asked why she devotes so much time to puppies like Mick, and it's not a hard question for her to answer. "If people, and breeders, and vets would only give these little dogs a chance. They give back so much more than they take. Just look at how many people have smiled watching this video."

— Sarah B. Weir

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