By Josh Saunders
An adorable puppy whose potentially deadly double-sized paws, has his ‘fat legs’ to thank for finding him a loving home.
Michael Swan, 39, from Staten Island New York, adopted the puppy who’s now named Sherman due to his large limbs that the owner says resembles those of Eddie Murphy’s character in The Nutty Professor.
The eight-month-old pup has lymphedema, which caused a blockage in the lymphatic system causing fluid to build-up in his hind-legs and swelling the out of proportion.
It’s believed to have been caused by ‘bad breeding’ according to Suzanne Cappetta, 52, of rescue team Fur Friends In Need, and was an ‘exorbitant amount of fluid’.
If he sustains a cut or infection to the area it could prove fatal, but owner Michael who took him in two-months-ago is determined not to let this risk limit his life.
The father-of-three admits the pitbull’s ‘fat legs’ attracted him to the dog, describing it as ‘love at first sight’ and now is determined to ensure he has ‘best possible life’ for however long he lives.
Michael, a bus conductor, said: “He is great, he’s a great big lug that’s for sure, we love him and it feels like he loves us too.
“We noticed his legs will bother him if we run around a bit because he gets tired and will lay down.
“But apart from that it doesn’t affect his every day life, I don’t think he realises he has big fat back legs.
“Then after speaking to Suzanne and hearing he came from a bad breeder who wanted nothing to do with him.
“I thought that if god-forbid, he lasts only five or six years, I will make them the best years of his life with me.
“If he gets a cut on his back legs it could be fatal, I don’t want him to stop running around or going through sticks though so I try not to limit him.
“He could die if he gets a cut, I don’t send him into rose bushes but don’t want to stop him being a puppy and living his life.
“I looked up the disease online, it’s something you see more often in humans than canine, but it’s what drew me to him.
“If I hadn’t seen those big fat legs I may not have honed in on him that day.
“I take him on long walks in the wooded area and to the dog runs, I will give him the best doggy life that I can.”
Sherman, who at the time of rescue was named ‘Mikey’, was rescued by Fur Friends In Needs – a team that has being running for over two decades.
Suzanne from Middlesex County, New Jersey, was tipped off about Mikey through connections and decided to take in the dog.
She said: “I guess they were just breeders for money who didn’t want to spend money.
“The owner told my contact that he wouldn’t take the dog to the vets and that he could have him if he wanted, that’s when I was called.
“I was told he had a swollen leg, which I thought maybe a sprain or something, but when I got him, I realised they were both swollen and knew something was wrong.”
After blood tests, checks and an ultrasound it was confirmed that he had lymphedema.
While Mikey has since been on medication, there is lot research into helping to battle the condition that is more typically seen in humans.
Suzanne said: “It was an exorbitant amount of fluid in his legs.
“I was told it’s rare to appear in dogs, could shorten his life and that we had to be very careful to avoid it getting infected.”
Michael would meet future pet Mikey at a fundraiser for the organisation in October, four months later he would be adopted after Suzanne recognised how much the family loved the dog.
She said: “He was so passionate about adopting Mikey and when his family came to meet him, I just knew they were the right family for him.
“He’s settling in wonderfully, I have seen him a few times since – he’s doing fabulous, goes to the dog park and gets on with everyone.”
Despite settling into his new home, Michael believes the dog will never forget the kindness and love shown to him by Suzanne.
His experience with adopting Sherman has even led him to change his opinions of fostering and rescuing.
Michael said: “Sherman will never forget what she did for him and it’s touching to see he still has that memory of her.
“Before Sherman, I was definitely a person who as a dog owner would go to a breeder to get the best show dog.
“But since adopting him, hearing his story and the incredible work that Fur Friends In Need do, I’ll never go back to a breeder.
“Seeing the love Suzanne has for all her dogs, has completely changed how I look at the rescuing and fostering process.”
Fur Friends In Need say they take in ‘the unadoptable’ dogs, including those with special needs and those on death-row.
Suzanne currently has over 26 dogs in her care – consisting of those who are dying, diabetic, blind, and more.
The organisation are reaching out for donations to help with their mounting medical bills – with them running debts to save the animals’ lives.
Suzanne said: “Right now my credit card is over $10,000 because me and my rescue partner use our own funds to get our dogs the help they need.
“We take in special needs and unadoptable dogs, which is why our bills are through the roof.
“Other rescues don’t do what we do, we take the one who are truly in need of rescue.
“People often shy away from dogs with special needs but it’s not always as it appears, in the right hands love can perform miracles.”
For more information or to donate visit: www.furfriendsinneed.com.