The Pet Files

540

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.

Jennifer Earnhardt with her dog, Marvin. Photo courtesy  Jennifer Earnhardt.
Jennifer Earnhardt with her dog, Marvin. Photo courtesy
Jennifer Earnhardt.

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.”

–Megan Morgan