The star of this year’s Do Dah Day festival, the annual pet parade in Atlanta, was a charming mutt (possibly an Akita) named Pig. What’s so striking about Pig is that she’s literally only half there. She was born missing part of her spine and several ribs, and some of the vertebrae that she does have are fused and twisted.
Since the Do Dah Day parade last month, Pig has become something of a media sensation, although she hasn’t quite made it to the status of a meme yet. Her story is one that’s undeniably touching, because there are so many reasons that she shouldn’t have survived her first day, never mind made it to the parade and become a media star. She was born wild, to a feral mother in the woods northeast of Atlanta. A local woman found the small family of pups when Pig started barking. A vet recommended that she have Pig euthanized. But fortunately for Pig, Kim Dillenbeck was visiting her sister for Christmas and came to see the new pups. She and Pig were an instant match.
“Pretty quickly, I decided to be her mother because she probably wouldn’t live,” she told the Birmingham News. “We assumed that by now, she would be suffocating under her own organs, or something like that, because of her shape.”
Pig’s physical problems don’t cause her any visible pain; she loves to run around and play, and she can stand on her hind legs, but she does need special care. Dillenbeck watches Pig while she eats so that she doesn’t eat so quickly. Her internal organs are pressed together so closely inside her that Pig could suffocate if she eats too quickly. “I’ve actually had to Heimlich her a couple of times,” Dillenbeck says. “She doesn’t have the space in her to eat large meals without getting out of breath because her lungs are crowded.”
Pig has had a better — and longer — life than she might have expected, but her future isn’t clear. The problem is that although Pig is still about half the weight of her siblings, she’s still growing and gaining weight, and that could be lethal.
“She has the potential to gain another 20 pounds, and that would probably kill her,” Dillenbeck says.
The problem is that although her body is small, her organs don’t know that, and they’re already too close for comfort. If she puts on too much more weight, they won’t be able to function.
Fortunately, Dillenbeck has a lot of experience with rescuing dogs and knew the risks. The vets at Hope Animal Clinic who take care of Pig, David Fuller and Rachael Hudson, say that Dillenbeck has done everything right. But even they can’t say what Pig’s future is. Her case is far too unusual for them to make predictions, and she’s already survived the predictions that were made in the beginning.
“I think [Dr. Fuller] knows as well as I do that whatever time we get with her is our gift,” Dillenbeck says. “I’m the lucky one. She makes me laugh every day.”
Via Birmingham News