Special needs dog is short on spine, big on love

For the last 5 years, Cooper has been a member of Elly and Andy Keegan's family.

"He's usually either sleeping or making sure he is in the middle of what we are doing as a family," said Elly.

This dog with special needs has found a special home, one that accepts him as he is.

"He's been such a staple in our family for five years we don't even consider it special needs anymore," said Elly.

The Keegans say their 6-year-old American Foxhound was born with a hereditary condition called Short Spine Syndrome that left him with a compressed spine that makes him look like he doesn't have a neck.

The Keegans say he was sent to Second Hand Hounds after he had been wandering in some woods near Halifax, Virginia for months, and the animal rescue asked the Keegans to open their home and hearts to him until he could be adopted.

"After he was up for adoption for over a year and we didn't find him a home, I said I'm done. I can't keep trying to find him the perfect fit when we know this is the perfect fit. He's here forever. He's not going anywhere now," said Elly.

Cooper has limited mobility, like he can't turn his head so if he wants to see what's behind him, he has to shift his entire body around.

The Keegans say Short Spine Syndrome only affects about 30 dogs in the world, so they started a Facebook page called Cooper: Short On Spine, Big On Love to raise awareness about the rare condition.

"When you see something that otherwise may not have had a chance at life because of their special needs. To be able to give them that full life and see their joy as they are experiencing it, that is something special for us to see as well," said Andy.

The Keegans say they offered Cooper's genetic profile to researchers at Purdue University to help get a better scientific understanding of animals with Short Spine Syndrome.

In the meantime, they plan to continue helping Cooper have a full and happy life and hope others consider giving a pet with special needs a home as well.

"Even if an animal is special needs, even if they need a little more support, the amount they return in gratitude and love is that much higher," said Elly.