Cooper can’t help but keep smiling even though he has virtually no neck. In fact, the disabled American foxhound was born with a condition that’s even more limiting: he was born with literally only half a spine.
Cooper is just one out of 30 dogs in the world known to have the genetic condition called short spine syndrome, where the spinal vertebrae are compressed and fused together. It’s a condition said to be caused by inbreeding.
But you have to admit that Cooper’s stubby body, and uber happy face, is also incredibly cute.
The disabled dog had been rescued by animal control officers near a suspected dog farm in Halifax, Virginia, in 2017. It’s thought that he was discarded, cruelly, by breeders because of his undesirable birth defect.
Luckily, the poor pooch was taken in by Minnetonka, Minnesota-based dog rescue Secondhand Hounds, where they treated him for ear mites and a hernia. Yet, even after being nursed back to heath, Cooper’s extreme spinal condition caused, and still causes, him a host of health issues.
“The condition means that Cooper has a screwing and corkscrewing of his spine,” explained Elly Keegan, the woman who eventually adopted then-2-year-old Cooper, along with her husband Andy. “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.”
Of course, that only makes him more adorable, I would argue.
However, it did cause Cooper some trouble with his health. Before being operated on, Cooper’s butt was literally on his back, giving him serious issues with going to the bathroom.
He also took a bad fall and fractured his neck in five places, and several months ago contracted a bone infection, which they later got under control with antibiotics. Cooper continues to rely on medicine still to this day.
“Because his spine is so compromised, it was dangerous but luckily we got it under control with antibiotics,” said Elly.
Below is an x-ray image of my ribcage. I'm not sick, I'm just helping people understand SS dogs better. I am grateful…
Adding to the poor hound’s litany of misfortunes, he cannot walk for very long or spend much time on hard surfaces; he has to be on soft surfaces such as grass or carpet.
Yet despite all of his shortcomings, Cooper is still “the happiest dog,” says Elly. And that goes a long way to making him oh-so-lovable—and you don’t need to take my word for it, as he has garnered a whole lot of fans on Facebook, according to his owner.
Cooper’s rare condition has also drawn curiosity from researchers at the Purdue University of Indiana who considered him for a study on short-spined dogs.
I want to thank Stacey for sending me bully bones from my wishlist! My local store stopped carrying bully bones and I…
Not everyone is so sympathetic towards disabled dogs like Cooper.
“Many dogs with conditions like Cooper’s are euthanized which makes me so, so sad,” Elly says. “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.”
It would seem that there are plenty of folks out there who appreciate this special-needs pup for what he has to offer. Cooper may have gotten a rough start in life, but it looks like he has his new human family, his brothers and sisters at home, a whole lot of internet fans, and us who are all in his corner and rooting for him.
Proof of life! Dad is doing a good job and my dog sitter Shelly makes sure I am still loved and spoiled! This isnt too bad, I guess…