A rescued German Shepherd puppy with Swimmer’s Syndrome embarks on an amazing journey, teaching her family the invaluable lesson of never giving up

Starfish was left on a beach in a cardboard box when she was just 10-weeks-old. The German Shepherd puppy was unable to walk or stand up because she had Swimmer’s Syndrome but at the time the local animal control brought her to the Friends of the Alameda Animal Shelter (FAAS) a vet had misdiagnosed her and she was about to be put down.

One of the technicians had the needle in her hand and was in complete tears. Staff had been told the puppy had been crushed and had to be put down but the head of the shelter walked into the room and said “We’re going to get a second opinion, this is a different story.”

Thank goodness they did because that decision saved Starfish’s life! They learned that Starfish had Swimmer’s Syndrome, a condition due to improper nutrition and malformation of bones that causes a puppy to lay flat like a pancake. But the condition is completely curable with proper diet and rehabilitation.

Starfish immediately began physical therapy treatment with Holistic Veterinary Care. During her recovery, Leigh Anne Gray’s daughter Maggie saw a photo of Starfish and instantly grew attached to the pup. She convinced her family to foster her. Throughout the strenuous rehabilitation, Maggie noticed Starfish never faltered and worked at it so hard. The pup was so determined to get on her four feet!

Starfish’s determination paid off and at 2 months old she began walking all on her own!

As Starfish continued her treatment she grew stronger and stronger and the Gray family soon realized they couldn’t part with her and so they adopted her.

The Grays says that they feel so lucky that Starfish came their way. She continues to inspire the whole family to never give up!


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