Vet tech and Imgur user kaffekalle was working at the vet clinic on her 30th birthday. That day, she had no idea she’d be taking home an unexpected surprise: a newborn puppy! However, he had a severe cleft palate.
“I took him on knowing that he might not live,” the dauntless woman wrote. The pup’s life expectancy was about two weeks.
But fate was on their side. And lucky for us, the persistent vet tech recounted the “tail” with a slew of adorable pictures! Take a look at her recollection:
“On my 30th birthday, a chocolate lab had a c-section at my veterinary clinic and had 9 puppies. One of those puppies had a cleft palate, and the owners opted to euthanize the puppy. Knowing the sucker I was, another vet tech got the family to sign the puppy over and got me to foster the puppy. Here is my chocolate shake and chocolate lab puppy.”
From the beginning, she knew that the puppy’s future looked grim. She wrote:
“Depending on the severity of the cleft, and if it affects the hard or soft palate, puppies usually do not thrive. The space in the roof of their mouth does not allow them to suckle properly, and they eventually die of starvation. This little chocolate bean had no idea he had some bad genetics and latched quickly to his binky.”
A week passed, and the pup was already proving that he was a survivor.
“At this point, I have been up every 1-2 hours religiously tube-feeding this little boy with a red rubber tube and syringing Esbilac (puppy milk replacer). I am exhausted, but realizing my little ‘science experiment’ might actually survive.”
At 2 weeks old, he was still fighting.
“This little boy traveled to work with me every day. Being that I worked in a veterinary clinic, it was easy to feed and stimulate him every 2 hours. He really loved his binky.”
And at 3 weeks old, he’d already defied the odds.
“At this point, I’ve decided that this little boy was a fighter. He was starting to scream for his feedings and would come barreling out of his kennel with his little legs. I named him after one of my most favorite roles Tom Hardy played…Bronson.”
At 6 weeks, the pup was becoming quite dapper.
“Bronson is starting to look like a real pupper. I LITERALLY CAN’T EVEN AT THIS POINT.”
And at 7 weeks, he was getting mischievous…but so adorable!
“[He] is starting to get into [stuff] and running around the house like a madman. I get him this superman t-shirt to watch him fly. He’s absolutely naughty and I love it.”
Although he was healthy, his cleft palate was still posing a challenge.
“Bronson’s cleft palate was a particularly bad one – it extended from his hard all the way to his soft palate. The surgeon I worked with was a little skeptical about my taking this type of genetic defect on, but was also wanting to see how he would do. He would continue to monitor Bronson’s defect so we could decide a day for surgery.”
But despite Bronson’s health issues, the optimistic animal lover found a way to make it work.
“This became our ritual. In the beginning, it was just small amounts of warm milk every 2 hours. As he grew, it became a trial and error session of coming up with the perfect concoction of canned food that would go through the red tube easily.”
This ladies’ man (dog) even became a hit around the clinic.
“Bronson quickly became everyone’s favorite puppy at my work. He has become superbly socialized, with terrible, terrible manners.”
And even though he was mischievous, his irresistible face got him out of a lot of trouble.
“He started to become super obsessed with putting EVERYTHING in his mouth. I realized the [trouble] I got myself into, with having a mouthy lab that had a hole in the roof of his mouth.”
Although this vet tech saved the puppy, she realized how much he’d saved her, too.
“The more and more I grew attached to this little [guy], the more I realized he turned into my therapy puppy. He made each day better.”
As the pup grew, so did the cleft. Eventual surgery was inevitable.
“Here’s a good pic of how his face grew crooked. At this point he was almost a year old. He has been switched to dry food that disintegrated with water intake. Although food still got stuck sometimes in his cleft, I made sure to buy puppy kibble that was round. That way the sharp edges didn’t cut into his sensitive tissue up in his exposed nasal area.”
“Here you can see that as he aged, the cleft grew closer together. He was almost ready for surgery. This was almost an end to him being a sheltered, highly energetic lab with sinus infections and bloody sneezing. Overall, he had done quite well, and most of the veterinarians were shocked that he did as well as he did.”
Eventually, Bronson got surgery to repair his cleft palate. It was a success! Just look at him now:
“Here he is today with Layla, his 12 year old pit X sister, and Harley, his 10 year old border collie brother. The tissue is almost completely healed, he is able to play with toys, chew on raw hides, swim in lakes, go on walks, bring me sticks…basically live the rest of his life as a perfectly normal lab… I love my dogs.”
Look at you, Bronson!
What a great story of compassion and perseverance! We’re so glad to see Bronson happy and healthy today. Check out more pictures and the original story by kaffekalle on Imgur. (Note: one picture shows Bronson during surgery.)