Never in my life have I had the occasion to rock back and forth and stare at my computer screen with adoration, whispering, "I love you, Lentil." This is because I think healthy, high protein foods are the devil's seed (mozzarella sticks forever). That's changed now, however, and it's all because of this sweet little French bulldog who has overcome his disabilities to spread a message of love. I love you, Lentil.
Here are some Lentil Facts for all you future Beanstalkers (which is a real term invented by the dog's large Facebook following): he was born in New Jersey in February, along with three other puppies. All of them had facial defects, and all but Lentil unfortunately died. Lentil lived, because he is the Chosen One. At birth he had a cleft palate and a cleft lip, so he was unable to eat or drink on his own and had to be fed from a tube every few hours. Consequentially, the tagline on his Facebook page used to be "My name is Lentil... and I eat from a tube."
He was adopted by Lindsay Condefer, a volunteer from the French Bulldog Rescue Network of Philadelphia, who took constant care of him despite the fact that his palate was so deformed that eating and drinking put his lungs in danger. And here's where the tale exits the realm of "sweet and tender" and waddles into the territory of "fuck, please pass me a tissue; I am kind of moaning a little at my desk": when Lentil was old enough, Condefer took him to get cleft palate surgery. She opted, however, to leave his cleft lip in place because it was "more of a cosmetic surgery." (Side note: after the successful procedure ameliorated his palate problems, Lentil's tagline was changed to "My name is Lentil... and I sometimes eat from a tube... because now I can eat some kibble too!")
The veteranarians who operated on Lentil's palate recommended him for a program in which children with certain conditions meet animals with the same conditions. Thus, Lentil became an "ambassodog" for children with craniofacial issues. Since then, Lentil has visited with hundreds of children in the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. He's also the mascot of his own festival, called (duh) the Lentil Festival, which raises money for craniofacial awareness, and he just returned from the Children's Craniofacial Association kids' camp in Orlando, where he inspired many beautiful children and also wore a little t-shirt with a flamingo on it.
Danny Pfeiffer, a 14-year-old boy with Saethre-Chotzen syndrome, told CNN, "He doesn't look like, you know, a regular dog. That kind of makes him special, so it probably makes kids who have something that I have, makes them feel special."
I LOVE YOU, LENTIL.
"Endearing pooch helps kids with facial differences" [CNN]
Image via Facebook.