But just weeks ago, shortly after Mick was born to a breeder in Oklahoma, it was clear something was off about the little guy. The breeder noticed Mick’s legs always lay splayed out beneath him, and the pup could do nothing but rest out flat on his tummy — an unmistakable sign that Mick was suffering from a condition called Swimmer Puppy Syndrome.
Swimmer Puppy Syndrome, or pectus excavatum, is a somewhat rare birth defect typified by an underdeveloped chest and sternum, making the chest cavity appear flat like a pancake. This defect makes it extremely difficult for puppies who have it to hold their own heads up and pull themselves up onto their legs to stand, walk, and run like a normal puppy. Swimmer Puppy Syndrome is often a fatal diagnosis, as many pups suffering from the birth defect either die of pneumonia or, as is often the case, are euthanized.
“Ninety percent of all animals born with birth defects are euthanized at birth,” explains Sue Rogers, founder of the Rochester, N.Y.-area organization now caring for Mick, the Mia Foundation. The Mia Foundation was created specifically to provide care for animals with birth defects like Mick’s Swimmer Puppy Syndrome.
“They are a lot of work and sometimes they are very expensive, so sometimes people think it’s just easier to put them down,” Rogers adds.
But Rogers wasn’t willing to give up on Mick so easily.
“When he first came, I didn’t know if there was anything I could do for this puppy,” Rogers tells WHAM ABC 13 of Mick, “but he proved me wrong.”
With guidance from a veterinarian and after a lot of research on the web, Rogers started Mick on an intensive regiment of physical therapy, working with the Boston pup six hours a day, seven days a week for two weeks. The results were nothing short of astounding — soon Mick was not only able to sit on his own, but the little guy could stand. And though his gait is a bit odd, Mick has even learned to walk.
Videos of Mick’s miraculous recovery have made waves across the country — and around the globe. Rogers says she and her organization have received notes and generous donations from as far as Hong Kong and London.
“I think [Mick’s story] was very inspirational,” says Rogers. “I mean here was a little dog that pretty much had no hope, but with a little time, a little work, and lots of love, he showed the world that good things happen.”