Saturday, April 6, 2013

Lentil the Inspirational Frenchie Puppy

If you don't already know who Lentil is, go look for him now.  Here you go - he has a Facebook page called 'My Name is Lentil' and he is a ridiculously cute and personable French Bulldog puppy.

Now that you're acquainted with his cuteness, let's talk about his reality.  Lentil is the only surviving puppy from a litter that were all born with cleft palates and subsequently turned over to the French Bulldog Rescue Network.  A cleft palate is a birth defect of the oral cavity, an opening in the roof of the mouth which prevents the ability to suckle and predisposes them to aspiration pneumonia.  The severity of Lentil's deformity is intense - his palate is completely separated, and the cleft extends to his nose (that's what gives him such a distinctive face).  His prognosis was guarded when Foster Mom Lindsay accepted responsibility for him at a few days old; he was not expected to live past his first week.

That was over 2 months ago, and Lindsay's life has been turned upside down to defeat the odds for little Lentil.  He requires tube feeding every 3 hours around the clock (stop and think about this - EVERY THREE HOURS), and is never left alone.  And let's not even talk about all the press he's been getting lately - he's internationally famous!  She does all of this for him, in between operating her own business (Chic Petique, in Northern Liberties), her own dog rescue (Street Tails Animal Rescue/STAR), and being on the board for the Animal Care and Control Team of Philadelphia (ACCT).  Any one of these activities is a large time commitment, and she manages to do them all, and do them well.  I personally can't fathom it, and give her major kudos for maintaining sanity through it all.

Lentil is more than just a cute and fuzzy cuddle bug - he is also an inspiration.  Cleft palates and cleft lips are among the most common birth defect that we see in human babies.  Since Lentil has become an internet sensation he has been able to reach into the lives of thousands, and is a friend to children that are in the same boat.  He is beating the odds, he is adorable and easy to love, and he shows these kids that it's okay to be a little different.  This means so much to the children, as well as to the families who love them.

Babies with orofacial clefts go through surgery to have them corrected, and, as they grow, they often need additional surgeries, dental work, and speech therapy.  In a few short weeks we will all be able to follow Lentil through this process, as he gets started with the first of likely many surgeries by Dr. John Lewis at the Matthew J. Ryan Veterinary Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.  Lentil brings these surgeries into the public eye, and will show these kids that they are not alone in what they are going through.  He is Lentil, the inspirational Frenchie puppy...and he eats through a tube.

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