Quasimodo, a pure-bred German shepherd dog with a hunchback caused by a rare spinal condition, has become an internet star. He is fast acquiring a large fan-base with thousands of "likes" after a Facebook page titled "Quasi The Great" was set up for him only two days ago.
The page was set up after he arrived at Secondhand Hounds, a non-profit animal rescue operation in Eden Prairie, Minnesota, on Thursday, January 28.
Secondhand Hounds said they created the page so raise public awareness about special needs dogs.
Caregivers at Secondhand Hounds named the playful 4-year-old pooch after the fictional character in the 1996 animated Disney film, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, based loosely on the 1831 novel by Victor Hugo.
Quasimodo's physical condition gives him an unusual appearance for a German Shepherd dog. Pure-bred German Shepherds dogs usually have long graceful bodies, but Quasimodo has a short stumpy frame because of his hunchback condition. He is unable to move his head because his body merges with his large head almost without a neck.His hunchback is caused by a condition known as short spine syndrome. The condition is so rare that only 13 dogs are known to suffer the condition in the whole world.
This makes Quasi a very special dog, says Sarah Anderson, large breed foster coordinator for Secondhand Hounds."Quasi is our hero because he is the definition of the qualities we all admire in our dogs," Anderson said. "Born different, but never knowing any other way, he seeks to please the people who have shown him kind hands and warm hearts. He may not be as pretty as many dogs on the outside, but his heart and soul shine through and make him one of God's most beautiful creatures."
"Quasimodo has nothing wrong with him," she continued. "He's just a little different than 'normal' dogs. His body is compressed because of his condition, so all of his organs are crammed in his belly."Quasimodo was scheduled to undergo surgery to improve his health. But surgeons said he is likely to have health problems when he is older.
X-ray images taken in preparation for surgery show that the dog has a malformed spinal column. His chest and abdominal cavity are so small that his internal organs are severely compressed within the small space.
But despite his short frame he has a normal-sized head and limbs.Dr. Susan Miller, a veterinarian with Minnesota's Mission Animal Hospital, said Quasimodo's condition is very rare. She suggested it could be due to a genetic defect, caused possibly by inbreeding.
She compared Quasi's short spine syndrome with spina bifida in humans.
"Something along the way caused his spine not to fully harden," the vet said, "so they think the softened vertebrate just compressed either in utero or very soon after birth, and then at some point it hardened, but it didn't harden soon enough."
"He might have surgery as soon as Monday -- waiting for confirmation from the surgeon," Rachel Mairose, founder of Secondhand Hounds, told the Daily Mail. "Right now we are focusing less on finding him a home and more on getting him healthy. We already have hundreds of requests for adoption."Quasimodo was picked up on the streets in Kentucky earlier this month and brought to Secondhand Hounds where he acquired a large Facebook following in a matter of days. A very brief video of the dog posted to his Facebook page has gone viral with tens of thousands of views.
Quasimodo is staying at the canine rescue shelter only temporarily, while caregivers try to find a permanent home for him. And after gaining more than 15,000 likes on Facebook and hundreds of adoption offers in only two days, caregivers are confident he will find a perfect forever home very soon.
The earliest photos of the adorable pooch uploaded to Facebook after he arrived at Secondhand Hounds show a quiet-looking pooch with wary eyes still getting used to his new environment.
"His personality is amazing. He is one of the sweetest, most loving dogs, once he trusts you. He has a great 'spunk' about him," Anderson said.
"I want to bring awareness to special needs pets. Just because they're not 'normal' doesn't mean that they're not special. Special needs just mean that they're a special pet," she concluded.
[Image via Shutterstock]