It's a big deal when a puppy takes its first steps but it's an even bigger deal for a puppy like Mick who took his first steps nearly two months after he was born.
Mick, a Boston Terrier, was born with Swimmer Puppy Syndrome, a condition in which a puppy is born flat-chested and with a flat abdomen that forces its hind legs to become splayed and its front legs out to the side of the chest, in a paddling motion.
Mick was born to a breeder in Oklahoma but was sent at six-weeks-old to the Mia Foundation, a non-profit organization in Rochester, N.Y., that takes in animals with birth defects that might otherwise be euthanized.
"Mick arrived on July 16," said Sue Rogers, the foundation's founder. "The minute I saw that dog I never thought he would walk a day in his life. He was flat as a pancake."
Rogers, who was also rehabilitating six other dogs in her home when Mick arrived, had never before worked with a puppy with Swimmer syndrome so she began researching, with the aid of her veterinarian, to figure out how to help Mick.
One video Rogers saw online said to wrap part of a PVC pipe around the dog's chest to help form it into its natural position. Rogers used what she had on hand, a beer coolie, and wrapped that around Mick to lift his chest and reform his rib cage.
Next, she strapped Mick in a harness and hung him in it for 15 minutes four times per day so that just his feet could touch the ground. The harness put his legs in the correct position to walk and helped his muscles begin to form, according to Rogers.
"I would just sit there with him," she said, adding she also used massage therapy to will Mick's legs into their proper position. "It was every day with persistence that we kept trying."
On the fourth day, Rogers taped Mick's legs together in their correct position and left the tape on for 12 hours every day.
"As soon as I did that he could sit and he could stand and then he just started taking his first steps," she said.
About two weeks after Mick arrived with a body that looked like a "flat pancake," he was walking and running like a normal puppy.
"This little puppy that had come three weeks before and just had to sit and watch the other puppies play is now leading the whole pack," Rogers said. "It's amazing."
Rogers captured Mick's transformation in a YouTube video that has been seen nearly 40,000 times since she posted it last week.
As is done with all dogs rehabilitated through the Mia Foundation, which has foster homes across the country, Mick will be put up for adoption as soon as he is ready.
"He's going to go on to live a normal life and he's going to make a family very happy," Rogers said. "That's what the Mia Foundation is all about. It's giving these dogs a chance."
Click HERE to follow Mick's progress and for more information on dogs rehabilitated through the Mia Foundation.