Internet Falls in Love With Brain-Damaged Dog Who Does Somersaults

An adorable puppy who was brought to an animal shelter suffering from a "severe brain infection" has captured the hearts of millions thanks to his somersaulting antics.

Sampson was handed over to Good Sprout Rescue and Sanctuary, in Ohio, when he was only a few weeks old.

The sanctuary's TikTok account, @goodsproutrescue, run by Audrey Quillin, has been posting heartwarming clips of Sampson as he recovers.

A video shared to the platform last month, showing the dog doing flips on a bed, has been watched more than 27 million times.

The on-screen caption explains: "This is Sampson. Sampson suffered a serious brain infection at only 5 weeks of age due to the horrible conditions his breeder kept him in.

"He survived the infection, but the left side of his brain was permanently damaged, making him a bit… different. One strange thing he does is somersault."

In the comments, the shelter added: "Sampson is under the care of a board-certified neurologist. He cannot control his somersaulting, but it does not hurt him." The clip can be seen here.

Quillin told Newsweek that Sampson was surrendered to their shelter on June 15, 2020.

She said: "Only a few hours after he arrived, Sampson began vomiting large amounts of worms, refusing to eat or drink, and became too weak to lift his heavy head. We rushed him to the emergency room where we learned that Sampson's head was swollen with infection that had seeped in through a bite wound on his face. The infection had formed a large abscess that was sitting on his brain and infection was wracking his tiny body.

"He was so anaemic due to the parasitic infestation that he needed a blood transfusion, and we were told that with how sick he was, the chances of him tolerating the transfusion and surviving the night were next to impossible… but he did!

"By morning his bloodwork had improved significantly and the veterinarians decided he was strong enough to have surgery to drain the abscess. Surgery was successful, and after three additional days in the hospital Sampson was finally ready to come home!"

Photo of Sampson the dog.
Photo of Sampson the dog. The puppy developed a brain infection when he was just a few weeks old. Audrey Quillin

His recovery wasn't straightforward, however. Quillin said: "We noticed some neurological symptoms that could not be chalked up to the usual funny/strange 'puppy' behaviors. We took him to the neurologist, where we learned that unfortunately the infection Sampson suffered as a baby caused permanent damage to his brain.

"While Sampson will never be 'normal,' we have him on several different medications and have accommodations in place to help him live as comfortably as possible! Due to his extensive medical and behavioral issues, we made the decision to keep him as a permanent sanctuary resident. We feel that keeping him in sanctuary is the best way to ensure he lives the longest, healthiest, happiest life possible."

On her own Instagram account, Quillin went into further detail about Sampson's condition when he arrived, revealing that the puppy was originally called Joshua.

She wrote: "Joshua was surrendered to us by his breeders because he was not growing like the rest of his siblings and had a large, squishy head."

She added: "His head is swollen with infection to the point it is too heavy for him to lift. He is being literally eaten alive by parasites, vomiting worms and extremely weak. Despite all of this, Joshua is fighting. He survived the night at the hospital where he received antibiotics, IV nutrition, a blood transfusion, and had his abscess drained.

Photo of Sampson the dog.
Photo of Sampson the dog Audrey Quillin

"Things are still very touch and go, but his blood work is slowly improving. His medical bill is approaching $2500, but as long as Joshua wants to fight we will fight with him. Please keep him in your thoughts today."

After the puppy was strong enough to undergo the procedure, he had the fluid drained and a stent fitted to ensure any remaining liquid was removed.

In September 2020, Quillin updated her followers, posting: "He fought so hard to survive, and is now four months old and thriving! He definitely has some challenges, but with proper accommodations and lots of love is able to live an (almost) completely normal life."

Following the outpouring of love and support for the dog, the official Facebook page for Good Sprout Rescue revealed that he would be staying at the sanctuary permanently.

The post earlier this month read: "I would like to take a moment to publicly thank everyone so, so much for the outpouring of love and support for our sweet Sampson! I have just been completely blown away by it all, and honestly the shock hasn't worn off (I'm not sure if it ever will). I have received thousands of messages expressing love and well-wishes for our boy. It truly means the world to me that so many of you love and care for him as much as we do!

Photo of Sampson the dog.
Photo of Sampson the dog. Due to his rare condition, Samspson now involuntarily does somersaults. Audrey Quillin

"This is as good a time as any to announce that Sampson will be staying with us as a permanent sanctuary resident. He has completely stolen our hearts, and with his complex medical and behavioral needs we feel that keeping him in sanctuary is the best way to give him the happiest, healthiest, most enriching life possible.

"Watching him fight so hard to survive as a tiny, malnourished puppy with the big, squishy head and seeing where he is now… it feels like a dream. The best dream. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for loving him, for your kind messages, for your donations, for your support. This entire experience has been so incredible, and it is thanks to all of you. Thank you."

In the comments on the viral TikTok video, Quillin also updated followers about the case against his previous owners.

"A cruelty case is pending against them. We are working closely with local humane agent to shut them down for the good," she wrote.

Sampson has stolen the hearts of many online, with Kay commenting: "Not being dramatic, but I would die for sampson."

"He somersaulted right into my heart," Bexter the Balancing Dog raved.

Joh asked: "So you're telling me a dog can somersault but I can't."

Gr8fldead added: "This is quite literally the most precious thing I have seen today."

Certified account We Rate Dogs posted: "Don't worry Sampson we love different. 14/10."

 Photo of Sampson the dog.
Photo of Sampson the dog. The pup needed to have a stent fitted to drain the fluid around his brain. Audrey Quillin

Update 10/25/21, 9 a.m. ET: This article was updated with comment from Quillin.