A Perfect Match
When the Mia Foundation – a rescue organization in in Rochester, N.Y., that finds homes for animals born with birth defects – posted a photo of a boxer/bull mastiff puppy, Jennifer Earnhardt fell in love instantly.
“It was like I was struck by lightning. I just knew I had to have him – his little button nose and his lip…I was just done,” Earnhardt recalls.
The puppy was Marvin, and he was born with a cleft lip and cleft palate. Marvin was rescued by the foundation, and although most puppies with cleft palates do not survive because they can’t nurse, Marvin was tube-fed, and he thrived.
“The only difference with him now is that I keep his bowls elevated so it’s easier for him to eat and drink. But other than that, he is a completely normal and healthy dog,” Earnhardt says. “Sometimes people look at him, and they know something is different and they can’t quite figure it out, so I just tell them he was born with a cleft. Most people don’t realize that can happen to dogs.”
Earnhardt describes Marvin, now just over a year old, as a total clown.
“He is rambunctious and energetic and has never known a stranger,” she says.
Because of his energy, Earnhardt enrolled Marvin in obedience classes, but the duo actually failed – twice.
“The instructors said we failed because of me, being too anxious,” she recalls. “But everyone gets a kick out of the fact that we’ve failed obedience class.”
On a recent trip up north, Marvin met his parents and their owners, as well as one of his sisters, also born with a cleft lip and palate.
“His sister acted just like him; it was pretty funny,” she says.
Earnhardt can’t imagine life without him today.
“He’s changed my life so much,” she says. “I was going through a kind of a dark period at the time [Marvin was adopted], and I knew I wanted to rescue a dog, but the right one hadn’t come along yet. When Marvin came, it was like a God thing.”