This page is dedicated to Capulet and his journey to good health as well as to bring awareness of cleft palates and how with love support and some vet care these dogs can thrive and lead wonderful lives.
In March of 2014 Capulet (age 5) and Montague (age 7) found themselves in the New Jersey Shelter System. They were listed as owner surrenders and believed to have spent their life together. In NJ the shelters attempt to be "no kill" but the realities of over crowding make the life span of an older dog in the shelter system a short one. Because of this many rescue groups will remove older dogs or dogs with health issues in an effort to find a home for them and save their precious lives. On a personal level, I would adopt an older over a puppy any day - they are full of love and commit to you fully, it is as if they know the 2nd chance they have gotten and are grateful.
I became aware of Capulet (Cappy) and Montague (Monty) in May of 2014 and inquired on how I may adopt them and keep them together. And the journey began...
Both pugs came with minor health issues due to neglect, but Cappy who was missing an eye and has an adorable stick up ear was on antibiotics for weeks to clear up an infection, seemed to display other issues when in our home. Runny nose, trouble eating and drinking and an infection that was not clearing up. We took both to the vet and were shocked to find Cappy had a cleft palate and a large cleft at that. The infection was due to this cleft and that all food and water went into the nose making it hard for him to nourish himself (his weight is now 11 lbs after 3 months).The infection was chronic due to food and particles getting stuck in the cleft and rotting and as we found out later causing bone loss in his jaw and major tooth decay.
To have survived birth with this size cleft Cappy would have had to been loved and cared for at one time. Tube feedings every couple of hours ( a link to a great article: http://www.vetstreet.com/our-pet-experts/what-to-expect-when-adopting-a-dog-with-a-cleft-palate), surgical closure of the eye (thought to be part of the same birth defect), and plagued with infections and malnutrition. Which makes it even more of a tragedy that he found himself in the foster system after the adversity he lived early on in life. Cappy had many adapting behaviors, such as eating food with his paw so he could eat one dry kibble at a time to try to avoid his food from going into the nasal cavity - it was sad and amazing to see how this little beam of pug happiness was surviving.
I took Cappy to Northstar Vets in Robbinsville NJ - they have many specialist and a Dr. Lewis who was part of the team that assisted the famous Lentil the cleft palate French Bulldog took on Cappy as a patient. It was decided that the cleft could be repaired in possibly several surgeries and that tooth extraction was going to need to be done as well to improve his health and life. This was a hard choice - there we many risks including closure failure and death. And the cost was not something to sneeze at coming in at $4k to $8k. But, in the short time we had Cappy under our roof, we could not imagine him plagued with health issues and dying due to cleft complication and infections, he was so full of love and life. We decided to team up with a few rescue groups in our area and work at fundraising for his surgery costs and go ahead and pay for it out of our pockets while attempting to raise some of the costs.
Cappy had his first surgery on June 19, 2014 at Northstar. The surgery lasted 5 hours and he was in ICU for 2 days on oxygen due to his heart rate and breathing taking a turn for the worse after the surgery. It was a horrible 3 days of crying and worrying and hoping we did the right thing.
Cappy came home with many medicines and instructions and over 100 stitches in the roof of his mouth and soft palate. HIs progress has had some setbacks (aspirated pneumonia 2 weeks ago) but the first surgery has added to his quality of life. Cappy will go back to the vet in a few weeks to see the progress of the surgery and what the next steps will be in his journey to health.
As of today he can now eat dry food that is wet with some warm water with his head down in the bowl like a normal dog. He does not sneeze food and water our his nose for hours trying to clear the passage. He eats and drinks like a pug (anyone who has a pug knows they way to a pugs heart and mind is with food). He snuggles and plays and has become a good watch pug (barking at thunder is a little less than desired, but it means he is alert and well). When in the car he barks at other cars and sounds like an old man smoker (I will need to get an audio). And he is ready to move forward in his treatment.
I have added information to this page to help grow awareness of cleft palates and how these dogs do not need to be euthanized at birth and to help fundraise for Cappy and eventually other dogs in need and to just celebrate Cappy and the joy and love I feel for him and how lucky I feel that he and his brother came into my life at a time when I could help.
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