Your Name: Kayla Gower
Dog's Name: Georgie
Breed: English Bulldog
Age/Years of friendship: Almost 3 years old
Where did you get your dog from: He was a breeder surrender to me when I worked as a “nurse” at a vet hospital
Location: Ogden, UT
Social Media Link: www.instagram.com/georgiethecleftie
I will never forget the day I met George. I was working as a “nurse” at a vet hospital and his breeder had brought his mom in for a routine c-section. It was an insanely busy day, like normal, and I hadn’t even had a chance to breathe until my coworker pulled me aside and told me about a tiny little cleft-puppy that needed a chance at life. Now, this was not unusual for me to be brought into these situations, as I had fostered 8 additional other neonatal puppies with clefts and other birth defects and had 4 years of vet experience at the time. Most of the time these dogs are euthanized immediately for a variety of reasons ranging from the odds being horribly stacked against them without around the clock medical care, to simply... you can’t sell a cleftie for a profit. So, their only chance is for someone to take them in.
Now, I think it is important to note that the day I met George, was a part of my life that had been particularly “dark.” I was barely keeping my head above water with my own medical issues, my family going through what seemed like war, and trying to wrap up my senior year of college. I was NOT in the position to take on a neonatal cleft. But, when I looked at that 15-minute old baby and the doctors I worked with kept saying “nobody would blame you if you can’t take on this one, he has one of the worst clefts we have ever seen” something inside me knew this puppy had to come home with me. I needed him as much as he needed me, I knew it in my gut. At the time, I clearly remember saying “I know he has about a 1% chance of survival, but 1% is better than 0” and the rest is history. George had the fighting spirit I needed in my life. I am not exaggerating when I say it was a struggle to keep him alive most days, and he was brought back with CPR twice before he was even 3 months old. He had his second nostril built into the side with the cleft lip when he was about 4 months old (he was only born with 1 functioning nostril on his non-cleft side) and had his cleft palate surgically repaired when he was 10 months old. He got cancer when he was 2 years old, and even beat the odds with that too. He is the definition of a medical miracle walking.
I think it is a vital aspect of our story to know a bit of what we went through together to understand why we have the bond we do. I was both “mom” and owner to him, and because of that we have a bond I have never experienced with any other living thing, seriously. He can pick up if I am sick or upset, faster than I even know it myself. He depicts more “human” responses than I have ever seen in any other dog. From, recognizing when he needs to be calm around children or me when I’m having an anxious day, to being protective when he feels my tension about an unwanted stranger approaching us on a night walk. Still, he is the goofiest ball of energy and personality. I call George my “once-in-a-lifetime dog” because that truly is what he is to me and everyone else. By all medical standards, he shouldn’t be here with me today, and just by existing he constantly reaffirms my faith in what a warrior spirit can do. I plan to continue to rescue and rehabilitate special needs puppies like George in the future, but for now I am convinced he is immortal and I never will never have to think about the day that he isn’t with me to carry on this special legacy.
If there was one thing I hope people learn from George’s story is to remember that special needs DOES NOT mean lost cause. It is does not mean you can sweep him under the rug and pretend he never existed and it does not mean he is any less of a dog. He lives an amazingly fulfilling life and embodies what it means to live to the fullest and embrace your differences. Just as much as I gave him a chance at life, by him entering my world it gave me a chance to be a better human and gain a better understanding of people and dogs with special needs. I think everyone could be reminded by George to love one another despite differences in our physical appearance or the circumstances we were born into.
This is George and my story. What's yours?
Share your story at email@example.com