I’ve spoken many times about the importance of adopting dogs, rather than buying from a breeder. There are already plenty of dogs out there who need love and shelter, and this is especially true for special needs dogs like Cooper here, who often have a hard time being adopted.
The two-year-old American foxhound was born with half a spine, making him half the length of a normal dog of his breed. Rather unimaginatively, the condition is called short spine syndrome, a genetic condition caused by inbreeding, which results in vertebrae fusing together and compressing.
Cooper was sadly abandoned as a pup, before animal control officers rescued him in the summer of 2017, close to a suspected puppy farm in Halifax, Virginia, USA. The officers believed the two-month-old was most likely abandoned as a result of his birth defect. Unfortunately, some people are shallow like that.
Fortunately, he was taken in by Secondhand Hounds, a shelter in Minnetonka, Minnesota, who treated the neglected dog for a number of conditions including ear mites, worms and a hernia.
Cooper had a very tough start to life, but things took a huge turn for the better when he was adopted from the shelter by Elly Keegan, 32, and her husband Andy, 33. The couple took Cooper to live with their other three dogs: Skylar, 13, Waylon, three, and Tuva, four. There’s a busy household!
Despite all of his health problems, Elly says that cooper is ‘the happiest dog’ in his new home.
She said: “The condition means that Cooper has a screwing and corkscrewing of his spine. It is fused in two places – on his neck and on his rear. He looks like he has no neck and to look behind him he has to turn his whole body.
“When he was found he was in very poor condition. His butt is on his back and it was all matted. He couldn’t go to the bathroom properly which was causing him a lot of issues.
“I am lucky to have the support of Secondhand Hounds and the right environment for a special needs dog.”
Absolutely – god bless those folks who took Cooper in and cared for him.
She added: “That’s not to say we don’t have incidences. A few months after he came he had a fall and fractured his neck in five places.
“A couple months ago he was starting to show signs of pain again and he actually had a bone infection called osteomyelitis.
“Because his spine is so compromised, it was dangerous but luckily we got it under control with antibiotics.
“But he’s still the happiest dog.”
Cooper is estimated to be one of just 30 dogs living with this condition, and is now being considered for a study at Purdue University in Indiana.
His new mom Elly said it’s ‘unconscionable’ that breeders abandoned him.
She said: “Wherever he goes he draws attention but he really revels in it. He’s such a friendly dog.”
“His condition is caused by inbreeding and it is unconscionable to me that he was just thrown away when the breeders realised he wouldn’t make them money.
“Many dogs with conditions like Cooper’s are euthanized which makes me so, so sad.
“They have so much living to do and Cooper is a real example of that. He has a happy, normal little life now and is a key member of our family.”
God bless Elly and Andy for taking him in to a loving home. All the best for the future, Cooper!