A vet technician was working on her birthday, but little did she know she would be taking home a puppy that day in an effort to save his life.
“I took him on knowing that he might not live,” the vet tech wrote. That’s because the chocolate Lab puppy was born with a cleft palate. His owners had opted to euthanize him, something that is commonly done to puppies born with this life-threatening condition. But Imgurian kaffekalle stepped forward to rescue the puppy instead.
“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,” she wrote.
While she was happy to to take on the challenge, she knew realistically he would not survive past two weeks. Fortunately, the puppy she named Bronson, proved to be a fighter. She recounted her rescue of Bronson with a series of heartwarming photos charting the little pup’s progress.
From the beginning, she knew that Bronson’s future looked grim. “Depending on the severity of the cleft, and if it affects the hard or soft palate, puppies usually do not thrive,” she wrote. “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.”
By doing so, Bronson was able to eat. “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.”
“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 was already beating the statistics for surviving. “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.”
“Bronson is starting to look like a real pupper. I LITERALLY CAN’T EVEN AT THIS POINT.”
And at 7 weeks, he was behaving like most puppies do.
“[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 gaining weight and growing, his cleft palate was very serious. “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.”
She continued with their feeding ritual, moving from milk to soft food. “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.”
“Bronson quickly became everyone’s favorite puppy at my work. He has become superbly socialized, with terrible, terrible manners.”
His puppy curiosity was also getting him in 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.”
As Bronson grew, she realized she was really in love with the little guy.
“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.”
Bronson was now almost a year old. As he grew, so too did the cleft. Surgery was going to be mandatory.
“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.”
Bronson did have surgery to repair his cleft palate. It was complicated but it was also a huge success!
“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.”
What an amazing story. Bronson defied the odds and pulled through. It’s wonderful to see him leading a normal life now thanks to his mom’s persistence and effort.
Share this happy outcome with your family and friends!