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Quasi the German Shepherd Lives Large Despite His Short Spine

We chat with Teri Woolard about her foster Quasi, whose short spine syndrome has made him a social media star.

Heather Marcoux  |  Mar 28th 2016


The pictures have spread all over the Internet. Snapshots of Quasi — the dog with a startlingly short, hunched back — are attracting eyeballs all over Facebook. His unique look has made him a social media darling, but long before the rest of us spotted him on our screens, his rescuers did. Dogster-Monday-Miracle-badge_49_0_0_0

“He just looked so sweet and sad in his shelter photos,” Teri Woolard of Secondhand Hounds tells Dogster. “I first saw him online. He just kind of stole my heart from there.”

The dejected expression Woolard noticed in Quasi’s intake photos back in January was totally appropriate considering the circumstances the oddly shaped German Shepherd had found himself in. At 4 years old, he’d ended up in a Kentucky shelter after he was found wandering around all alone. A collar was embedded in his short neck, causing him great pain.

“It’s so hard to say how he ended up a stray. He was clearly somebody’s dog at one time,” explains Woolard, who is fostering Quasi.

“There are a lot of strays in Kentucky, so I don’t know if someone just didn’t want him anymore and let him go or if he got lost and they were never able to find him — I doubt that, but it’s hard to tell.”

If Quasi’s past is a question mark, then his future is an exclamation point. He didn’t know it at the time, but as those shelter photos were snapped he was getting a second chance. The Kentucky shelter got him into temporary foster care before placing him with Secondhand Hounds (SHH) in Eden Prairie, Minnesota. It’s a long drive from Kentucky to the North Star State, but thanks to the folks at Mobile Mutts Rescue Transport, Quasi was able to make the journey to people who could help him.

Quasi is getting lots of love these days. (All photos courtesy Quasi's Facebook Page)

Quasi is getting lots of love these days. (Photo courtesy Quasi’s Facebook page)

When he arrived at SHH, the first order of business was figuring out Quasi’s medical status. His short, strangely proportioned body is characteristic of short spine syndrome, a super-rare condition that veterinarians have confirmed Quasi was born with. Fewer than 15 dogs in the entire world (including fellow Dogster Monday Miracle pup Cuda and two other dogs named Quasimodo) are documented as having short spine syndrome. In Quasi’s case, the condition makes him kind of easy to sneak up on and might be why he seems to be afraid of cats and little kids.

“He can’t look around, his head is kind of stationary. He can’t turn his head from side to side or look up,” says Woolard.

“He eats out of a raised bowl because he can’t get all the way down to the ground, and he needs help with cleaning certain areas because he can’t turn around and get to them himself.”

Despite his challenges, Quasi is doing great in foster care with SHH. When he first came to Minnesota, he stayed with the organization’s director, Rachel Mairose, but eventually he moved in with Woolard and made himself at home.

“He came over to my house while she went on vacation, and he just kind of fell in love with my dogs,” she explains, adding that her current circumstances make her house the ideal foster placement for Quasi and other special needs fosters.

“I have a lot of extra time — I’m blessed to be home a lot.”

Quasi with fellow foster dog Sterling.

Quasi with fellow foster dog Sterling. (Photo courtesy Quasi’s Facebook page)

It seems Quasi is blessed too. In early February, he had surgery to fix a condition called “screw tail” (a malformation of his tail vertebrae). He was also neutered, and his genitals were surgically repaired to improve retraction and prevent infection. With his neck wound healed, Quasi no longer appears to be in any pain. His back can’t be fixed with surgery, but that’s not stopping him from running around with his foster siblings.

According to Woolard, Quasi is super sweet and a pleasure to have around the house. He doesn’t know he’s famous, but with more than a quarter of a million Facebook fans, Quasi is attracting more attention every day. SHH has received many inquiries from people all over the country who are interested in Quasi, but he’s not currently available for adoption.

“Right now we’re just figuring out exactly who he is, his likes and dislikes. He’s an amazing dog — but his personality has changed,” explains Woolard, who doesn’t know if Quasi will end up staying with her permanently.

“We have not decided completely. Obviously we don’t exactly know, health-wise, what his future looks like.”

Quasi can run around with the others, but sometimes he likes to be carried.

Quasi can run around with the others, but sometimes he likes to be carried. (Photo courtesy Quasi’s Facebook page)

Woolard suggests folks who would consider adopting Quasi check out rescues in their own communities, as there is no shortage of special-needs dogs looking for homes. She hopes Quasi’s Internet fame will inspire potential adopters to help other unusual looking pups. His time in the viral spotlight has already helped some of the other dogs at SSH.

“We’ve actually been getting fosters and volunteers applying because they’ve heard about Quasi. Not only do they want to meet Quasi, but they want to do office hours or walk dogs or foster for us — which is great.”

Not only is Quasi helping other rescue dogs, but he may also end up helping humans by furthering the scientific study of short spine syndrome and related conditions in people. A human geneticist at the University of California is now studying Quasi’s blood as the rest of the world continues to study his adorable Facebook photos.

Visit Quasi on Facebook.