The more dogs you see, the more unusual quirks and conditions you will notice. Breeders see a lot of odd cases as well, though there are definitely some conditions that can be avoided by being a responsible breeder.
Many times, backyard breeders and puppy mills don’t know enough about specific conditions or genetics to ensure their litters are healthy and happy examples of their breed, and so a lot of puppies with problems result. Since these kinds of people are in the business for the money, and a pup with conditions is a financial drain, they usually end up abandoned — or worse.
Cooper is an American foxhound. Most American foxhounds don’t quite look like Cooper, which is probably why he was tossed out like trash and discovered by animal control in 2017.
When he was found, he was just 2 months old, but he was clearly a product of inbreeding, as he exhibited a linked condition known as short spine syndrome. He’s a full-size foxhound compressed into a smaller space, giving him a very short back and no neck.
The rescue Secondhand Hounds picked up the poor pup and helped him find his way back to health. Fortunately, Elly and Andy Keegan were ready and willing to welcome the unusual pup into their dog-loving home.
They have to keep careful watch of Cooper since his state means he’s prone to injury. He’s fragile, compared to other dogs, and a bad fall could mean an early end.
“The condition means that Cooper has a screwing and corkscrewing of his spine,” Elly Keegan told Fox News. “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.”
“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.”
“It’s hard because he can’t go for long walks and can’t spend a lot of time on hard surfaces. He has to be on soft ground like grass or carpet,” she added.
Despite these setbacks, though, Cooper adores people and is an easy-going pup, and his owner refers to him as “the happiest dog.”
“He’s such a friendly dog. Wherever he goes, he draws attention but he really revels in it,” she said.
“That’s not to say we don’t have incidences,” she acknowledged. “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. He also had a surgery which helps him go to the bathroom a little better, which means he’s quite low maintenance now and can go by himself.
“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.”
Dogs with chronic or genetic conditions like Cooper’s are often seen as inconveniences and people avoid them. While they take extra work and care, those who have them vouch for them being amazing pets.
Teri Woolard, who works with Secondhand Hounds, confirmed this: “Cooper is an example that dogs with disabilities have a lot of love to give and make great pets.”
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.