Who Is Adele Anyway?

Hello big big world!  I’m Adele, a lil’ bully girl with a giant story to tell!  My eyes opened for the first time in a place I would like to soon forget.  I was born to a momma who was living a life of torture.  You see, I’m a puppy mill kid.  My mom lived her life in a cage with little to no social interaction and never was able to feel the soft brush of grass on her feet.  She was kept in that cage 24/7 every day of the year.  She was bred every 6 months and her whole purpose in life was to have puppies like me.  Puppies that could be sold to pet stores. 

I’m a Christmas puppy you see.  These large puppy mills produce hundreds and hundreds of puppies just in time to ship them to pet stores for the holidays. 

But I never made it to the pet store.  I actually probably will end up with a better life than most of my litter mates, despite the fact that right now it’s a bit …well…rough.

I was pulled from the puppy mill when I was 3 weeks by a rescuer.  The millers could tell there was something wrong with my legs and they were going to “put me down.”  Nobody has really told me what that means but I can just tell by the look on everyone’s face when it is mentioned that it is not a good thing.  This rescuer took me to her home and tried to figure out a plan for me.  She had a vet check me out and he took x-rays and said that it looked like I didn’t have any knees.  She was so sad and didn’t know how to care for me.  But she did know of a rescue that had helped her once before.  They are Chicago English Bulldog Rescue.  She thought perhaps they could help.

All it took was a phone call and my new life was awaiting me.  Shawn, a CEBR volunteer, donated an airplane ticket so that someone could come pick me up from far, far away and fly me back (right under the seat of the plane of course).  My first flight!  I even got to meet the pilot!

The minute CEBR set eyes on me they knew I was special.  My back legs swing around almost like wings.  They go up and down and side to side.  Even though I am not “normal” they love me just the same.  All I know is that I am very frustrated because I can’t get up and walk like other puppies my age – just 6 weeks.

After seeing CEBR’s vet, my diagnosis became clearer.  X-rays showed that I do have normal bone structure for a pup my age.  My hips are there, my knees are there, I have all 10 toes.   But…there is something that might be a bit strange.  I have a little indentation at the base of my spine which in CEBR’s experience indicates a form of spina bifida.  I am a bit too young to tell if this will be an issue, but it could explain why I’m not walking yet. As I grow they will be able to say for sure.

They think because of this condition that perhaps I have limited feeling in my back legs which caused me to fall behind as my litter mates developed.   I developed a condition called “Swimmer Puppy” which means that my hind legs are extremely weak and stick out to the sides with little or control on my part.  Even my front legs are starting to flail a bit as I struggle to move my big chested bully body any which way.  And truly it looks like I am swimming when I try to move….like the breast stroke.

Even more concerning is that pups like me develop a flattened thorax and abdomen because of the excessive amount of weight that is constantly pushing on it. Instead of the weight being on my feet and limbs like a normal puppy, it is on my chest and belly.  The vet told CEBR that most pups with my condition do not live to see 8 weeks of age because of this.  The organs including my heart and lungs may become compressed causing me to suffer from severe respiratory distress.  Typically if this Swimmer Puppy condition is caught by the third week of life measures can be put into place to correct the issue.  But mine wasn’t diagnosed until just this week, my 6th week.

So action was needed ASAP to help me have a good shot at a healthy, happy life.

My front had back leg hobbles.
There are several things that CEBR is doing to immediately help me try to get on my feet.  The first is called “hobbling.”  It sounds scary but it is really helping me.  My front legs and back legs are bound together by tape that extends to just the width of a normal bulldog stance.  This forces my legs into the right position and doesn’t let them fly out to the sides or “swim” anymore.  Although it is frustrating for me, when my foster mom handles me, she helps support my belly and gets me on my legs to help me develop muscle tone.

Doing the "belly roll!"
The next thing that we do is work in a sling.  Because I'm only 6 pounds my foster mom wraps a sling around my belly and puts me on my feet and lets me slowly move forward.  I’m still trying to figure out what to do with those back legs, but my front legs are getting stronger each time. 

We also do a “belly roll” which is a rolled up towel that supports my belly while my front and back legs straddle the roll.  It helps me stand in the right position and I eat like this and play with toys and chew on human fingers with my razor sharp teeth too.

And get this; swimming is good for me too!  So for now I get into my sling and dive right into a warm bathtub where I get to stretch my legs, strengthen my limbs, and paddle around.

The Bully Boardwalk
And finally, I need a very special piece of equipment which will really help me learn to walk.  CEBR calls it the Bully Boardwalk but you might think of it as a chute.  It is a long narrow passageway that is just as wide as I am.  I start at one end and with the help of a sling, slowly use the sides of the chute to grip my feet and walk down the passage to the other end.  

Each day brings new adventures, new challenges, and always a big, beautiful bully attitude!