A mamma dog and her litter were rescued by an animal shelter in on a hot summer day in Tennessee.
The shelter wasn’t able to handle the litter at the time, so they began to seek out extra help.
There was one puppy in the litter that they knew would need special care. She was covered in scratches and her legs seemed to be hurt.
Keep reading to find out this little puppy put everything she had into beating the odds!
In June of 2019, a litter of puppies and their mom were rescued by SPCA Bradley County located in Cleveland, Tennessee.
It was easy to see that not all the puppies were ordinary. “We just noticed something a little bit different about the smallest puppy,” Erin Burke of East Tennessee Alliance for Animals recalled.
The smallest puppy, Eliza, had dislocated wrists and cuts all over her body.
Because of this, Eliza was separated from her siblings and mom to receive special care from foster Erin, a physical therapist by trade.
Solving a Mystery
Erin made homemade braces for Eliza’s legs and tended to her cuts. Although her legs would straighten, Eliza would still get hurt very easily while playing with other dogs.
“Just the simple play with other dogs and other foster puppies that I had would lead to really bad cuts and blood,” said Erin, “So, that’s when we really needed to get to the bottom of what was going on with her.”
Eliza then had her first specialized vet visit at 8 weeks old, but they weren’t able to get to the root causes of Eliza’s issues.
Eliza then found herself at the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine where she spent all day being looked at from head to tail.
Throughout the vet visits, injuries and worry, Eliza was “an overall good puppy,” said Erin, “she would play, play, play with the other foster dogs.
She slept in bed with us. She was, and still is, just a genuinely good dog.”
Aided by Eliza’s good attitude, the vets were finally able to determine what was causing Eliza to be so fragile – she has a rare genetic disease called Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome.
The Truth Revealed
Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome is a rare genetic disorder affecting collagen, an important protein in the skin and connective tissues.
It has no cure and affects humans and animals. Eliza was the only puppy of her litter affected by the disease.
Because of this disorder, Eliza’s joints move too easily, and her skin tears more easily than it should. This explained Eliza’s dislocated wrists and fragile skin.
The disorder also affects Eliza’s eyes. Though she can see, her retinas are detached and her vision is cloudy.
Despite her challenges, “Eliza had the best attitude of any dog, puppy, anyone. She had no idea that she was any different from anybody else,” said Erin, “she was the happiest, happiest, dog ever.”
Looking Forward to Forever
Now that Eliza had a diagnosis, she was almost ready to find the perfect home. But first, Eliza needed to be spayed.
“Finding a vet to perform it was rough because not a lot of vets are familiar with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome,” explained Erin.
So, back to the vet Eliza went! With the use of a specialized robotic surgery, Eliza had no complications and was back home at Erin’s that same night.
Eliza was posted for adoption by Great Dog Rescue New England, so she could be adopted in the same area as the rest of her family.
She had a lot of interest, but it was important she found a home that could properly care for her needs.
Erin began posting Eliza in clothing, costumes and hats. And that is when Charlotte, a vet tech by trade, and her partner Janessa fell in love with Eliza.
Safety – But Make it Fashion
Eliza would be joining Charlotte and Janessa’s home with a three-legged chihuahua mix named Raven and two cats.
Typically, animals are transported by a trailer from East Tennessee of Alliance for Animals.
Erin knew that a transport from Tennessee to Massachusetts without supervision was much too risky for Eliza.
So, she did what any foster parent would do – drove the 16-hour trip herself, “I wasn’t going to let her get hurt,” said Erin.
And she didn’t.
Happily Ever After
Eliza arrived safely at her home in February 2020. “It was like we already knew each other.
I called her over and she leaped right into my arms and started licking my face,” recalled Charlotte of her and Eliza’s very first meeting.
Eliza can be found sporting her very best outfits, complete with booties, to protect her fragile skin.
We’re so happy that Eliza found the perfect home for her, and it wouldn’t have been possible without great people like Erin, Charlotte, and Janessa!
Want to see how Eliza is doing now? Follow her very own account on Instagram to stay updated on her latest adventures!