An adorable French bulldog with facial deformities is on a nationwide mission to show children with craniofacial disorders that it’s OK to look a little different.
Lentil was born on Feb. 2 with a cleft palate and deformed nose and lip and was the only surviving member of his litter. The French Bulldog Rescue Network knew the tiny puppy would need special care, so he was placed with Lindsay Condefer, a Philadelphia animal lover who founded Street Tails Animal Rescue.
Cleft palates can cause health problems for puppies, but Lentil’s combination of deformities put him more at risk for inflammation of his lung and nasal passages, which makes it difficult to breathe.
Lentil’s deformities also made it difficult for him to eat, so Condefer had to feed him from a tube every three hours.
“I have received more support than I can ever in my mind imagine possible. I don’t know how it happened,” she told Today.com.
Lentil underwent palatal surgery in April, and today he’s able to eat on his own. Now that he’s healthy, Lentil is using his popularity to help those with similar facial conditions.
Even though his palate was fixed, the French bulldog still has a cleft lip and nose — these were left alone during surgery because they have no effect on his health.
“He will always look a little different, but dogs don't tend to dwell on these things,” said Dr. John Lewis, an assistant professor of dentistry and oral surgery at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine.
And that little difference is also what makes him relatable for kids with facial deformities.
The pup started attending local events in Philadelphia with groups like the Children’s Hospital of Pennsylvania, where he met children with craniofacial disorders. In June, he and Condefer attended their first national event, the Children’s Craniofacial Association’s annual retreat in Orlando, Fla.
Inspired by how Lentil was able to connect with the kids and their families, Condefer says she and Lentil will continue attending events for children with craniofacial disorders. She hopes that Lentil will one day become a certified therapy dog and a canine ambassador for those with facial differences.
“Every opportunity that allows Lentil to be with kids, we’re going. The plan is to keep going. As much as we can do I want to, especially after this retreat,” she said.
Condefer recently set up a fund to help send more families to next year’s CCA retreat, and with Lentil’s help, the pair have already raised more than $23,000.
Check out some photos of Lentil as a puppy and more recently with his new friends below.
More rescue dog stories on MNN: