A Dog With a Rare Birth Defect Learns to Walk Again


Siggi is a happy-go-lucky rat terrier that was born in 2019. She loves people and she loves to play. However, she was born with a rare birth defect that made playing difficult. The truth is, that birth defect made it difficult for her to do anything. When she was born, her front paws were upside down. This necessitated an operation, one performed by veterinarians at the Oklahoma State College of Veterinary Medicine.

Born With a Birth Defect

Aside from her two front paws, Siggi was born a happy and healthy dog. However, the fact that her front paws were inverted at birth meant that she couldn’t walk properly. She would do her best to keep up with the rest of the dogs in her litter, but it just wasn’t working. That’s where the veterinarians at the Oklahoma State College of Veterinary Medicine come in. In order for her to have any chance at a decent life, she would have to undergo an operation that was unlike anything else that most veterinarians have ever performed. It would be an operation that would essentially flip her front paws over so that they would be in the correct position. She still wouldn’t be able to walk quite like she would if she had never had the birth defect at all, as it wasn’t possible to get her front paws to flex normally. However, the progress that she could potentially make was great enough that the veterinarians there were willing to take the risk. This is an extremely rare birth defect that only affects a few dogs from time to time. Unfortunately, they don’t typically survive, as the mother will usually refrain from feeding them or they inadvertently get pushed away by their brothers and sisters who are more able-bodied. It’s even more rare that a dog with this condition survives into adulthood. Perhaps that is the exact reason that the veterinarians who worked on her decided to give her the best chance possible for a normal life.

A Complicated Operation

The team that worked on Siggi had performed this operation only once in the past, on a much larger dog named Milo. In his case, the problem had been in his elbows. Veterinarians did a CT scan on Siggi and quickly found that her elbows were the problem, too. However, her condition was far more severe than Milo’s had been. Apparently, both of her elbows had come out of joints while she was still inside the womb, thereby allowing the bones to rotate. In her case, the rotation was so severe that the only way to fix the problem was to break her legs, correct the problem and then reset the bones. Doctors set out to fix the issue and after a long and successful surgery, they placed both of her front legs in splints and then attached an external fixator device to both legs. The device is designed to hold the broken bones in place until they are strong enough to support the weight of the individual in question on their own. As you can imagine, it isn’t exactly easy to keep an energetic puppy in such a device, so Siggi had to be partially sedated much of the time. It was all carefully planned out to make sure that she stayed calm enough to avoid inadvertently damaging her delicate bones before they had a chance to heal. It took some time, but her bones did eventually heal. Thankfully, veterinarians were able to remove the devices and begin physical therapy with her soon thereafter.

A New Life for Siggi

Part of her physical therapy involved hydrotherapy, putting her in a pool and allowing her to swim. It was an excellent way of strengthening the muscles in her legs, thereby making the bones stronger as well. It wasn’t long before she was able to do an entirely new kind of physical therapy, one that would just be normal play for any other puppy. She finally had the opportunity to chase her first ball. It was then that the doctors that had performed the operation, as well as the entire team, knew that she was genuinely going to be okay. According to the individuals who had been working with her throughout the entire time, it was a real pleasure to watch her run around chasing after a ball, something that she simply couldn’t do not too long before.

A Happy Dog

These days, Siggi is the same bouncy, happy-go-lucky dog that she was when she was born, with one major difference. She’s able to run around and keep up with other dogs, exploring the areas around her to her heart’s content. She might have been born with paws that were essentially upside down, but she has more than enough spirit and charisma to make up for that and any other challenge that ever comes her way. The people that have been fortunate enough to meet her have all said the same thing- she is a special little soul that deserves every chance in the world. One of the individuals on the team that helped Siggi has mentioned more than once that he was extremely happy to be able to help her. He also mentioned Milo, the only other case that they had ever worked on like hers. He said that as far as he’s concerned, Siggi is able to walk today in large part because of Milo. When they did the operation on him, it was something that had never been approached by the team and it made a great deal of news. That was how the shelter that was in charge of Siggi found out about them to begin with. Hearing that they had performed a similar operation before, they reached out to them in hopes that they could help her as well. If it hadn’t been for Milo’s story, Siggi may not have had the chance to live a normal life like she does now.

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