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Rescue group helping swimmer puppy walk

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ATLANTA -

A swimmer puppy named Thurston is beating the odds thanks to a local rescue group.
They're called "swimmer" puppies because their legs splay out to the side, making it hard to crawl or walk. It's a difficult condition and many young puppies don't survive.
    
Thurston has swimmer puppy syndrome and other complications. His bones are straight, but his joints are deformed.

When he was turned in, DeKalb Animal Rescue shared his picture on Facebook, asking if anyone could help. That's when Thurston's luck dramatically changed with the help of Denise Stubbs, the founder of the Fighting for Dawn rescue group.
 
Denise rescues shelter dogs with medical problems, but when she picked Thurston up, at the DeKalb County Animal Services, it was clear that his problem was serious.   

He was flat on his chest, unable to lift his head.

"It was heartbreaking at first seeing him," Stubbs said. "He couldn't raise up at all. He had urine burns on his abdomen. He had friction burns on his legs and his feet."

The next day, Denise brought Thurston to North Georgia Veterinary Specialists in Buford. X-rays showed the joints in his front and back legs push outward, instead of downward. Veterinary surgeon Keith Curcio said that with intense therapy, they can possibly get Thurston's joints back into alignment.

"As puppies they're very moldable, so to speak, almost like clay," Curcio said. "And if we can get him up on his feet with therapy and avoid any surgery, that would be ideal."

Rehabilitation therapist Lisa Bedenbaugh used water to build up Thurston's leg strength, At first, he was a little frightened.

"But he's catching on and I can't wait to see him a few weeks from now," Stubbs said. "He'll be swimming.  Lisa will have him swimming in that pool, and the thoughts of that alone just excites me."

Curcio added, "Our prognosis at this point is very hopeful, because he's showing such good progress, that we can get him back and be functional."

It's going to be a long road, but Stubbs believes Thurston can do it.

"I want to watch him run, I want to see him chase a ball," Stubbs said. "I want to see him fetch. I want to see him play with children.  He'll get there."

Denise is working with Thurston at home. They're using braces and hobbles to try to realign his legs.

Fighting for Dawn is paying for his therapy with donations. Click here to visit their Facebook page and to see photos and videos of Thurston.

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