5 min read

Puppies Dumped At Shelter Couldn’t Even Stand On Their Own

Their vet saved their lives — and they're finally learning to walk.

No one knew what was eating Vida and Vail when they showed up at an animal shelter in Houston, Texas.

At just a few weeks old, the Great Pyrenees siblings couldn't stand on their own.

Some people thought they had swimmer's syndrome, a birth defect that causes a dog's legs to splay out like a swimmer or a frog.

But it wasn't until Vida and Vail were pulled from the shelter by the Great Pyrenees Rescue Society that the stark truth emerged.

Something was, in fact, eating them: a parasite.

Called neosporosis, the condition was likely inherited from their mother - who may have ingested the parasite with an infected animal carcass.

"The parasite attaches to the nerve endings and slowly goes up the spinal column to the brain and typically kills them," Kickie D'Alfonso, a veterinary technician at Tech Ridge Pet Hospital, tells The Dodo. "But they caught it early enough so they can stop it."

Vida and Vail were sent to foster with D'Alfonso, who runs a rescue that rehabilitates dogs with very special needs called D'Alfonso House of Hounds & Hooves.

At first, neither puppy seemed inclined to give walking much of a try. Vida was particularly reluctant to take the next step.

"She did not want to do anything when she came to us and would just sit there and scream and cry when everyone else would be playing because she couldn't move," D'Alfonso recalls.

But the other dogs in D'Alfonso's pack turned out to be powerful motivators. As they galloped around Vida and Vail, it didn't take long for them to join in. At least, in spurts.

Vail, who has one hyperextended leg due to her condition, has already bounced back enough to be just about ready for a transfer to a regular foster family.

Vida, with both back legs hyperextended, is taking things a little more slowly. But her heart is already doing backflips.

"Now she is playful and wants to interact with everybody," D'Alfonso says. "I put the food in the kennels and when they see me get the dog bowls, now they go running into the kennels."

"Vida just kind of scoots and puts herself in the crate and wags her tail," she adds.

While Vida and Vail won't be ready for adoption until they're fully recovered, you can get updates on their journey here.

And if you would like to support their journey back to full health, consider making a donation.