If you’re a frequent lurker on Imgur, you may have come across the adorable face of Felix. Probably the most-loved dog on the social media platform, Felix sure has captured thousands of hearts with his delightfully charming face.
Born with a cleft lip and a cleft palate, Felix has had his fair share of struggles. Fortunately, this January, he had surgery to repair his mouth and it was successful! Now, Felix is as happy and healthy as any other good boy out there, and he even had his first splash in the river recently, which wouldn’t have been possible a year ago!
“I got Felix as an 11-day old puppy. I was the rescue worker who was called in by the breeder after they noticed that one of the puppies from their litter was not thriving, and was, in fact, dying because he had a severe cleft palate and cleft lip, and was not able to nurse off of his mother properly,” Jamie, Felix’s rescuer and the owner shared with Bored Panda. “He had developed aspiration pneumonia at this point and was not going to live another 24 hours. I took him home with me and tube-fed him for the next 7 weeks. I treated his pneumonia as well. He is now a 14-month-old adult Black Lab!”
“The cause of a cleft lip and palate is unknown,” Jamie told Bored Panda. “It is a congenital defect found in animals and humans, and is thought to be due to improper nutrition in the mother, or exposure to chemicals during gestation.”
Sadly, the cleft lip and palate are not the only medical conditions that this adorable boy has. But he doesn’t let get it in the way of his happiness! “Felix also has some digestive issues because his colon formed on the exact opposite side of his body that it was supposed to! Weird but it works. He only has one functioning eyeball, his jaws don’t match up, and the right side of his face looks like a melted candle, but other than that he is ok I suppose,” Felix’s owner told us. “None of his teeth match up either, so he has to mostly eat canned food. Sometimes I give him hard food so he can feel like “one of the gang” but it’s kind of hard for him to scoop it up. Keeps him busy though.”
“Felix had corrective surgery on January 31st to correct his clefts,” Jamie, Felix’s owner shared with Bored Panda. “He has a unilateral cleft palate that involved both hard and soft palates. His Doctor was able to reconstruct the roof of his mouth using his own tissue, and even rebuilt his soft palate, as it was nonexistent. Ever since his surgery, probably due to his skull shifting, he suffers from a neurological tic now that causes him to spin around and bark at the air occasionally. We are trying new medications to help him out with that.”
Felix’s owner told Bored Panda that the poor boy was unable to eat and drink normally before his surgery. “I had to use a specialized tool that I made to clean the food out of his cleft every time he ate,” she explained. “He also had to be regularly sedated so it could be cleaned and flushed at the vet. One time there was an entire salmon skin up there (we live in Alaska), and another time there was a plastic dental flosser stuck up in there. He was kind of a mess.”
Fortunately for Felix, he lives in a big and loving family. “Felix has 4 siblings!” Jamie told Bored Panda. “I have another dog with a cleft (not as severe and didn’t require surgery). His name is Sammy and he is an Australian Cattle Dog. I have a miniature dachshund named PB who is 12 years old. I have Baby Girl, a terrier from Bethel Alaska. And finally, there’s Meera, who looks like a 20-pound brindled whippet. They are an odd bunch, and all from the rescue. I work for a veterinarian who does exclusively rescue work. He’s a great man. Felix gets along great with all of his brothers and sisters, as well as his cat friend, and any and all fosters that I bring home. I have fostered well over 400 dogs since 2013.”
Apparently, Felix is feeling happy and safe living with his loving owner and siblings. “Felix is the happiest dog I’ve ever had,” Jamie shared. “He is blissfully ignorant of his health problems, and he has more energy than he or I know what to do with. I was able to take him swimming for the first time in his life this past weekend, and he did great. I hope to be able to train him to be a “real retriever” this summer. If I would have tried to take him swimming before his surgery, he would have drowned in seconds.”
If there’s one thing that this happy and energetic goofball loves to do, it’s certainly playing! “Felix loves to play ball – he will do it allllll day if you’ll throw it,” his owner told Bored Panda. “He is able to eat and drink normally now, and he’s the strongest dog I’ve ever known. After his surgery, he had a feeding tube coming out of his neck and I had to push liquid dog food through it for a few weeks. He never complained and stood so still while I did it. He couldn’t have anything in his mouth, which was difficult, because he loves to have something in his mouth at all times! He has been a real trooper, and I hope that the rest of his life will be great!”
Obviously, Felix is very loved in his house. There, he gets to play with other dogs, cats, and his favorite stuffed animals. In fact, he loves the stuffed toys so much, he recently ate two of them and had to have surgery!