A six-legged puppy has been described by vets as a “miracle” after surviving its first week of life with a range of complicated disorders. Born during the recent snowstorm in Oklahoma, the female pooch has been named Skipper, and is said to be doing well in spite of her condition. In fact, it's thought Skipper is the first pup to survive in utero with six legs.
The border collie/Australian shepherd mix entered the world on February 16 along with her eight littermates, although her owners had to wait several days for the storm to subside before they could take her to get checked out.
Posting a picture of the newborn pup on its Facebook page, the Neel Veterinary Hospital in Oklahoma City explained that Skipper had two “congenital conjoining disorders called monocephalus dipygus and monocephalus rachipagus dibrachius tetrapus, which simply means she has 1 head and chest cavity but 2 pelvic regions, 2 lower urinary tracts, 2 reproductive systems, 2 tails and 6 legs among other things.”
Essentially, this means that Skipper probably had a twin in utero, but somehow the fertilized egg failed to divide properly, leaving her with a duplicate copy of the lower half of her body.
No other examples of a puppy being born alive with these conditions exist in the academic literature, making Skipper something of a marvel. In addition to her rare condition, she also suffers from a spinal defect called spina bifida, yet continues to defy the odds by growing healthily.
According to the hospital’s post, “her organs appear to be in great shape, she is peeing and pooping, and is very strong!”
“She nurses well and is growing appropriately so far. All of her legs move and respond to stimulus just like a normal puppy,” continued the post. However, it is likely that Skipper will experience mobility problems as she ages, which means she may well require physiotherapy or other forms of medical assistance.
Sadly, Skipper was rejected by her mother and is now being bottle-fed. Her owners have set up a GoFundMe page to help raise money for her ongoing medical care. Monocephalus rachipagus dibrachius tetrapus was first seen in a puppy back in 2016, when vets performed a cesarean on a dog in Buenos Aires, Argentina. In that instance, the deformed pup had become stuck in the birth canal and died as a result.
In contrast, Skipper was born naturally, slipping through the birth canal with no need for surgical intervention in spite of her extra limbs. Her carers are documenting her journey on Facebook, and say there is no reason why she shouldn’t enjoy a full and happy life, and hope to see her wagging both tails vigorously as she grows and explores the world.