Puppy helps kids with facial abnormalities


by CNN


Posted on July 3, 2013 at 8:58 AM

(CNN) - He's 5 months old and about 10 pounds of adorable. His name is Lentil, a French bull dog puppy, who has made quite a name for himself by encouraging kids to be comfortable in their own skin.

In Philadelphia, Lentil helps raise awareness of children with craniofacial abnormalities affecting the head and face, such as cleft palate or cleft lip.

Lentil's story began in February when a litter of four puppies was born in New Jersey. All the puppies had facial defects; only Lentil survived, with a cleft palate and a cleft lip.

Because of his palate problems, Lentil was unable to eat or drink on his own, and he had to be fed through a tube every couple of hours.

His adopted owner was constantly on edge.

"Because there's always that chance that anything that he's taking through his mouth can go into his lungs," Lindsay Condefer said.

Lentil was treated at the University of Pennsylvania's veterinary school.

Working with craniofacial experts at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, the doctors came up with a plan.

Because Lentil's lip was only a cosmetic problem, they decided to fix his palate, so he could eat.

"The cleft lip itself is more of a cosmetic surgery, not really a necessity for patients that are not fully aware of what they look like," Dr. Alexander Reiter said.

They asked Lindsay if Lentil could become part of a program where kids with certain conditions, meet animals who have the same challenges.

Lentil was the perfect "ambassadog" for kids with craniofacial issues.

Lentil is so popular that patient families, like the Pfeiffers, have bonded with him.

They say he helped their son Danny deal with the many complications that come with facial surgery.

"He's here for a reason and he's made it for a reason," Lindsay said.

Lentil is a little pup, that's already made a big difference.

Copyright 2013 CNN. All rights reserved.