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Paralyzed Maltese running in her sleep breaks hearts

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A video of Barbara, a paralyzed Maltese, dreaming of running again has broken hearts on TikTok.

The rescue dog, who lives in Los Angeles with her owner Christine Hsu, 31, has been diagnosed with severe bruising on the spinal cord, known as spinal contusion.

Dr. Anna Foreman told Newsweek: “A contusion is a bruising injury, often due to trauma such as a fall or being hit by an object, such as a car. The trauma causes damage to local blood vessels, which burst and leak out their content (blood). The strength of the impact usually dictates how deep the blood vessels are which are affected by the impact. A heavier, harder impact causes a more deep, severe contusion.”

Despite this, Barbara remains “the same smiley girl as before,” Hsu told Newsweek.

Paralyzed dog
From left: Barbara can be seen laying in her pushchair while dreaming about running; and the same breed illustrates what the dog looks like when standing up. Barbara was diagnosed with severe bruising on the spinal cord, known as spinal contusion.
Christine Hsu / Utenzilije/iStock/Getty Images Plus

Hsu added: “On July 11, Barbara suddenly lost the ability to use her hind legs. She’s always been so healthy and energetic and didn’t show any signs of physical weakness prior to the paralysis.”

Barbara is unable to walk, so she is pushed around in a pram, and recently Hsu captured the moment her pet was dreaming about running again. The canine can be seen laying in the pushchair and kicking her legs. The heartbreaking clip has received up more than 975,000 views since it was shared on August 18.

Hsu, who uses the TikTok handle @babblinbarb, told Newsweek: “She is already showing signs of progress.”

But the road to recovery is going to be a long and expensive journey. Hsu is crowdfunding for Barbara’s vet bills. So far, kind strangers have donated over $10,000.

Jason Lu, the organizer of the Go Fund Me campaign, expressed his gratitude on July 12. He wrote: “Barb luckily doesn’t need surgery but the overnight stay, anesthesia, and MRI alone was already more than $8k and we truly don’t know what we would have done had we not had such an amazing response.”

Soon, Barbara may have the ability to run, wild and free again, according to U.K.-based Foreman, a vet from Everypaw Pet Insurance.

Foreman told Newsweek: “A spinal contusion is bruising or haematoma formation on the spine. Due to the fine structure of spinal nerves amongst the blood vessels, any contusion can lead to bleeding and disruption of the electrical communication along these nerves.

“Depending on the location of the contusion, this trauma can leave a dog with a partial or complete lack of ability to move their legs (paralysis or paresis), both of the forelimbs, or fore and hindlimbs. As well as a contusion, a dog may suffer with fractures to the bones of the spine (vertebrae) due to a trauma.”

Foreman added: “Prognosis is varied depending on whether nerves have suffered more permanent damage, usually evident by a loss of a deep pain response (the ability to feel pain when inflicted) backwards of a trauma location. If contusions alone are diagnosed by a vet, nerve function may improve over time with rest, support and good pain relief.”

So far, the video of Barbara has racked up more than 131,000 likes and 526 comments.

One user wrote: “She’s shimmying her leggos. That’s gotta be a good sign.”

“I am sobbing, I am so scared something like this might happen to my dog. Sending lots of love and strength,” added another dog owner.

Do you have funny and adorable videos or pictures of your pet you want to share? Send them to life@newsweek.com with some details about your best friend, and they could appear in our Pet of the Week lineup.

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