Myrtle first came to us as a tiny, wiggling 2-week-old puppy. She was transferred in from one of our Central Valley partner shelters with her mom and siblings, and was quickly sent to an experienced foster home with her little family.
Her foster family soon noticed she seemed much smaller than her siblings. They were all so young that they all moved a little awkwardly, but Myrtle’s movement seemed even more awkward than the others.
Myrtle pictured at the bottom
At Myrtle’s first medical check-up a few weeks later, our Medical team took a closer look at her legs. Her two front legs were clearly deformed and were curled and twisted in unnatural positions. She was also half the size of her littermates and hadn’t been very interested in eating. Despite these abnormalities, Myrtle didn’t appear affected. She was energetic and active and tried to keep up with her littermates as best as she could.
Once Myrtle was weaned from her mom, she was sent to foster with one of our experienced veterinary technicians, Megan, so her development could be watched closely by our Medical team. Because Myrtle was still so tiny, Megan spent a lot of time syringe feeding Myrtle to try to increase her weight. Megan also monitored Myrtle’s movement. Because of her abnormalities, Myrtle mostly hopped and bounced on her rear legs to get around, although she occasionally attempted to walk on her legs, using her more twisted leg as a sort of crutch. Our veterinarians recommended that Megan help Myrtle gain more strength in her other limbs to allow her more movement over time.
Over the next few months, Megan worked on Myrtle’s mobility. She played with her and encouraged her to use her other limbs to make up for the deficiencies in her front ones, and used physical therapy exercises to improve her balance and coordination. She was getting stronger, but sweet Myrtle still had a long road ahead of her.
Once Myrtle was a little bigger, our Medical team fitted her for a sling to help improve her strength even further. They were unsure if removing the more malformed limb would be necessary, so they wanted her to stay in foster for a little longer until they could assess what the best road would be for Myrtle to have as normal of a life as possible.
Despite Myrtle’s differences, she was a happy, energetic puppy. “She automatically assumed that everyone she met was obviously going to be her best friend,” says Megan. “She never met a person whom she didn’t love and she was just always so very happy and determined. A lot of her early physical therapy was accomplished by her chasing after my own dog.”
Megan brought Myrtle to work everyday, where she continued to try to make friends with everyone she met. Megan would use her work breaks to take Myrtle to meet other staff and volunteers around the building, where she would happily lick their faces. “She always wanted to be friends,” says Megan. “She met every new situation with that same optimism.”
Finally, after nearly 5 months in our care, our Medical team was confident in Myrtle’s progress. She was finally big enough to be spayed, and had gained enough strength and coordination that they determined she wouldn’t need any of her limbs amputated.
Myrtle was adopted by a loving family that understands she will be different from other dogs. She’ll likely become tired more quickly and need to be carried sometimes, but with her friendly spirit and determination, we know she has a bright future ahead of her.
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