This peculiar pup is one of just 30 dogs in the world born with half a spine – leaving him looking a little squashed.
Cooper, an American foxhound, has a rare genetic condition where his vertebrae are fused together and compressed.
Short spine syndrome, caused by inbreeding, means the two-year-old pooch appears to have no neck and his butt is on his back.
Cooper was rescued by animal control officers in summer 2017, close to a suspected puppy farm in Halifax, Virginia.
American foxhound Cooper was born with half a spine, leaving him looking at little squashed
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Animal control officers believe that the two-month-old puppy was abandoned because of his birth defect.
Cooper was saved by Secondhand Hounds, a shelter in Minnetonka, Minnesota, who treated the neglected dog for ear mites, worms and a hernia.
The plucky pup was eventually adopted by Elly Keegan, 32, and her husband Andy, 33, who live with their dogs Skylar, 13, Tuva, four, and three-year-old Waylon.
The two-year-old appears to have no neck and has to turn his whole body to look behind him
Elly described Cooper as ‘the happiest dog’ even though he struggles with mobility, and can not walk on hard surfaces.
‘The condition means that Cooper has a screwing and corkscrewing of his spine,’ she explained.
‘It is fused in two places – on his neck and on his rear.
‘He looks like he has no neck and to look behind him he has to turn his whole body.
‘When he was found he was in very poor condition.
‘His butt is on his back and it was all matted. He couldn’t go to the bathroom properly which was causing him a lot of issues.
‘He was originally placed with a family, but because Cooper is a chaser of cats, it didn’t work out.
‘I couldn’t put him through that process again.
‘I was also very aware that he needed intense medical care.
Cooper lives with Elly Keegan, 32, and dogs Skylar, 13, Tuva, four, and three-year-old Waylon
‘I am lucky to have the support of Secondhand Hounds and the right environment for a special needs dog.
‘That’s not to say we don’t have incidences. A few months after he came he had a fall and fractured his neck in five places.
‘A couple months ago he was starting to show signs of pain again and he actually had a bone infection called osteomyelitis.
The rare genetic condition means his vertebrae are fused together and compressed
‘Because his spine is so compromised, it was dangerous but luckily we got it under control with antibiotics.
‘He also had a surgery which helps him go to the bathroom a little better, which means he’s quite low maintenance now and can go by himself.
‘It’s hard because he can’t go for long walks and can’t spend a lot of time on hard surfaces. He has to be on soft ground like grass or carpet.
‘But he’s still the happiest dog.’
Cooper is the ‘happiest dog’ though he struggles with mobility and can’t walk on hard surfaces
Cooper is being now being considered as a candidate for a study of short spined dogs being conducted by Purdue University in Indiana.
Elly, a project manager, said: ‘Wherever he goes he draws attention but he really revels in it. He has a lot of fans on Facebook.
‘He’s such a friendly dog.
Abandoned Cooper was saved by Secondhand Hounds, a shelter in Minnetonka, Minnesota
‘His condition is caused by inbreeding and it is unconscionable to me that he was just thrown away when the breeders realized he wouldn’t make them money.
‘Many dogs with conditions like Cooper’s are euthanized which makes me so, so sad.
‘They have so much living to do and Cooper is a real example of that.
‘He has a happy, normal little life now and is a key member of our family.’
Owner Elly says ‘He has a happy, normal little life now and is a key member of our family’
Teri Woolard, owner surrender coordinator at Secondhand Hounds, said everyone should consider adopting a special needs animal.
Teri said: ‘Cooper is an example that dogs with disabilities have a lot of love to give and make great pets.
‘We’re so happy to have been a part of his journey.’
Cooper ‘is example that dogs with disabilities have a lot of love to give and make great pets’