A puppy found on a beach (appropriately named Starfish) was seemingly showing signs of having been crushed in a way that seemed incurable, from the way in which it was trying to move.
When taken to a nearby shelter, it was decided that the most humane thing to do was for Starfish to be ‘put to sleep’; & right as the female technician, with needle in hand, was ready to euthanize this severely mobility-challenged puppy, in walks the shelter director deciding to get a 2nd opinion; & with that, turning this into a different story.
Lo and behold, it was diagnosed with “swimmer’s pup’ syndrome”, & an expected 3-6 month recuperation time. When the shelter called an appropriate rehab center regarding Starfish, & she was brought in, it was like having an immediate attachment.
While describing her flat as a pancake, the staff would nevertheless want to hold Starfish all the time, & the affection was mutual.
What was striking about her development, is the perception of always having this need to be constantly on the move.
A ‘thirst for life’ observed in her, Starfish responded to everything being taught to it because she wanted it so bad.
Starfish kept responding to encouragement when told to ‘use those legs’ every time she tried moving, while helpers noticing the right part of the body being her stronger side & appropriately voicing it in an encouraging way.
As mobility seemed to improve, helpers would then manually put legs in a position to mimic standing, & when that was accomplished it seemed as if the puppy would appreciatively make whining sounds in an adorable way.
As starfish continued to be stimulated in that position, the brain, it seemed, would reconnect in order to store that info, the puppy making even more progress the more rewiring its cerebellum seemed to make, as seen on the progress made.
& then, it finally happened; as the puppy was forced with a treat enticement while being placed on a narrow ‘puppy hall’ for side-to-side support, it took its 1st ‘push steps’ that got her to the food.
Then outside, stimulated by a more natural environment, it looked like her unaided moving around improved much faster. By this point, while not completely controlling its nerves in concerted muscle movements, it could stand straight, even if for a few steps, then adorably ‘plopping’ down but continuing to move towards its goal nevertheless.
At one point, it seemed Starfish got fitted with tactile enhancers on her paw, as she was further stimulated by making it go through some low hurdles, & completing them every time! She got so good, it even started doing the coordinated ‘dog jump’ we see on them, with the front & back paws together.
Against all odds, it only took two months for Starfish to run (surely from that mutual unconditional love); especially good at doing so through the surrounding outdoors running along with barefoot helpers.
Just as it should naturally come to an animal, Starfish is no exception in always wanting to be outside running around in nature.
In wanting to try repeating something until getting it. A perseverance & willingness to live. That’s what’s inspiring to show others through our lives; if we can learn that from an animal, how much more can we learn from each other!
Amazing what a little unconditional love can do to speed up a healing process.
Thank you, Eli Ralston.