The heartwarming story of Lil' Dumplin'

You might think that at a rescue the size of Big Dog Ranch—with over 1,000 frisky, furry legs needing to be stretched—it would be easy for one puppy’s tiny limbs to go unnoticed.

Not when the pup in question, Lil’ Dumplin’, is in the care of Lauree Simmons and Meg Weinberger—the women behind the rescue—and their committed team of foster parents like Teresa Dotson.

In May, the ranch rescued a litter of puppies and their mom from a residence in Georgia. The mom had been chained to an igloo doghouse, making it nearly impossible to care for her babies. Two of her young did not survive, and one of the other three, Lil’ Dumplin’ had developed Swimmer Puppy Syndrome, a condition in which a young puppy develops a flat chest and sternum, and is unable to get their legs under them or lift their head up. “Swimmer puppies” often die within a few weeks of developing the syndrome, as the pressure on internal organs becomes too intense, and any milk consumed is pushed into the lungs.

Lauree and Meg called their go-to special needs foster mom, Teresa. “I had never even heard of Swimmer Puppy Syndrome,” Teresa told me.

Still, a puppy in need was too much to resist, and when Lil’ Dumplin’ came to live with her, Teresa spent hours researching Swimmer Puppy Syndrome and treatment options.

“I stayed up all of the first night trying to get him to eat,” she said. “He wouldn’t even nurse from a bottle.”

First she tried water therapy. That didn’t work.

Next came T-shirt therapy, in which she cut holes in the bottom of a man’s t-shirt for Lil’ Dumplin’s legs, and padded them to try to keep his limbs in place. No luck.

She was able to get him to eat a little by placing rolled up fabric beneath his chest and just behind his front legs, allowing him to raise his head.

Finally, the right technique came her way. Teresa fashioned elastic hobbles and tied them around his front and back legs, making them just loose enough to take a step, but too tight for his legs to splay to his sides. He wore the hobbles for three days, and each day his legs grew a little stronger. At night, he slept on his back in a padded storage bin that kept his legs in place and alleviated pressure on his chest. Teresa checked on him throughout the night. “You don’t sleep very much with a puppy anyway,” she joked.

On the third day, Teresa removed the hobbles, and the swimmer pup had been saved. He ran around with all of the energy and enthusiasm a playing puppy could possibly have. “You would have never known that a few days earlier, he was in danger of dying.”

As with all of the dogs she fosters, Teresa had a say in which “forever home” would be lucky enough to welcome Lil’ Dumplin’ into their lives. Today, he is a healthy, happy boy that gets to go to work with dad every day and has some four-legged stepsiblings to romp around with at home.

As heartwarming as Lil’ Dumplin’s story is, Big Dog Ranch is about more than that. Big Dog Ranch is about more than the massive amount of food it runs through every week (over 1500 pounds!) feeding their dogs.

Big Dog Ranch is about the 250+ dogs they’re currently caring for, and the story that each of them has. It’s about providing shelter and affection to homeless and unwanted dogs, and finding them loving companions that understand just how lucky they are to adopt such a friend.

The quote on their t-shirt says it all:

“Shelter dogs aren't broken. They've simply experienced more life. If they were human, we'd call them wise. They would be the ones with tales to tell, and stories to write. The ones dealt a bad hand, and responded with courage. Do not pity a shelter dog. Adopt one”

Visit Big Dog Ranch Rescue, and discover the different ways you can become involved in the stories of their dogs.

Your furry friend is waiting, and neither of your lives will ever be the same!

About Big Dog Ranch Rescue:

Big Dog Ranch Rescue is a unique no-kill dog rescue situated on 28 acres in Wellington, Florida.

The mission of Big Dog Ranch Rescue is to provide shelter, care and affection to homeless and unwanted dogs of all breeds and to adopt them out to loving human companions. In support of those objectives, they also promote animal welfare and celebrate the special bond between dogs and people through education, awareness and community outreach. Big Dog Ranch Rescue is associated with the Weimaraner Rescue & Adoption of Florida and is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization.

For more information, visit their website and friend them on Facebook!