Though Mick has been on earth for six weeks, he's just learning to take his first steps.
The Boston terrier pup, born with Swimmer Puppy Syndrome, a disability that left his legs splayed and weak, had foster mom Sue Rogers worried that he'd never be able to walk.
"I never thought anyone would be able to help him," Rogers, founder of New York's Mia Foundation
for disabled animals, told TODAY.com
. "He was flat as a pancake."
But Rogers refused to give up hope – or have the pup euthanized, which is what veterinarians often suggest in such extreme cases. Instead, she started Mick in her own form of puppy therapy.
"I had a little sling, and I'd wrap him up really tight in a baby blanket and carry him around, to put his shoulders and his hips into the proper position," Rogers explained of the swaddle she created. Once that worked, she started on his motor skills. "I had a little harness and put it on him and hooked [it] up [to] a chair, and I'd play with his toys and do massages." Next up: therapeutic swims in the bathtub. "Each day it got a little stronger, got a little better, and by the last swim therapy session he was like a little frog in the tub. It was cute," Rogers said.
After a painstaking few weeks for both Rogers and Mick, the tiny pup began to show signs of improvement.
"It was hard at first, it almost seemed cruel to me," Rogers said of Mick's final treatments, which required taping his legs together. "I'd stand him up and his legs would be really wobbly, but he was standing for a few seconds. And then he would stand for a few minutes, and then all of a sudden, one day he put one foot in front of the other, and he just took off."
Rogers, who says Mick is now "doing awesome," started the Mia Foundation
after she lost her Chihuahua Mia, who underwent multiple surgeries to fix her cleft palate. The Foundation has now grown in size and saved dozens of pets with disabilities from euthanasia.
Said Rogers of her work, "My philosophy is, if they're born, they certainly deserve a chance to live."