Posted on Wednesday, February 8th, 2012

Big Miracles Come In Small Packages – Elvis’ Story


I have always loved dogs, but my love for beagles began back in September of 2005. I was single, living in an apartment alone and decided I should get a companion. One day I was shopping at a mall, and when I walked past a small pet store, I could feel little brown eyes staring at me. I finished my shopping and went back to the pet store to find the cutest, softest, lovable little pure bred beagle. Unfortunately, the $450 price tag was way out of the question for this 21 year old college student. The store owner would not lower the price, so I went back in every day for two weeks to play with him until the shop owner finally agreed to lower his price to $250 for me because he could see I had formed an amazing bond with Bailey. He became my best friend!

Shortly after bringing Bailey home, I met my husband. He instantly had an amazing bond with my dog and it led us to buy our second pure bred beagle, Molly, in May of 2006. The two dogs were our family! This brings me to the story of Elvis.

In 2008, it was time for Bailey and Molly to have puppies! We were so excited and couldn’t wait. We brought her into the Glacial Ridge Veterinary Clinic in Glenwood, MN to have x-rays done to see how many puppies she was expecting. The number amazed me. The vet said that by counting the spines on the x-ray, it showed she was going to have 9 puppies!

HartzOn June 18th, 2008 Molly was in her nesting area when we heard her yelp. I went in to check on her and the first puppy had already been born. Molly was busy cleaning the sack off of the puppy and shortly after she cleaned up the placenta. I picked up this first pup and realized there was something wrong. He was missing part of his nose so I pried open his little mouth and could see that there was a cleft that ran all the way to the back of his throat. To be honest, I held him in my hands and cried. He was breathing fine and moving around, so I laid him back by Molly and she continued to clean him off. He tried to nurse, but wasn’t able to latch on to her. Two hours had passed since the first puppy was born, and so I made a call the emergency veterinarian. We loaded Molly and the single pup into the car and brought her in to be checked. They had to give her 2 doses of oxytocin to get her contractions started so she could deliver the rest of the puppies. Once the contractions started again, the puppies were delivered with about 2 minutes between each one. After all of the puppies had been delivered, there were a total of nine that looked like a pile of Holstein cows, all black and white!

At the point, the emergency vet took a look at the first pup born with the cleft and shook his head. He said, “You know, he isn’t going to make it through the night. Not only is he not going to be able to eat due to the cleft, pups like these usually have other problems internally.” I was not okay with that comment. Everyone deserves a chance, and I was going to give one to this little puppy!

HartzCaring for Elvis was very difficult and tiring. I used puppy formula and a very small bottle to feed him every two hours all day and even throughout the night. He had to be held upright to reduce the chance of him choking. I had to suction his nose using a bulb syringe to remove the excess formula from his nasal cavity.

Molly didn’t give up on him either. She still tried to nurse him even though he couldn’t. Elvis had a strong will to live and wasn’t going to let go. He was smaller than the rest of the litter, but was growing stronger and bigger every day.

When the time came to start the other pups on soft dog food, we would separate Elvis so he wouldn’t choke. He was determined not to be different from the other pups, though. He snuck into the group of other pups and started eating the dog food too. He did well, but on occasion we would have to suction his nose out. Before we knew it he was eating the crunchy dog food too!

It was amazing to see how Elvis adjusted to his disability. His cleft was on the left side of his nose and pallet, so he would chew on the right which prevented a lot of the food from entering his nasal cavity. The most amazing thing he did to adapt to this disability was to take my daughter’s pacifier! When he would hold the pacifier in his mouth, the cleft became blocked allowing him to breathe more comfortably. Often times, we would find him napping with his pacifier in his mouth. We made light of the situation and called him a baby and then put a bonnet on his head. He didn’t mind at all seeing as he loved to be babied anyways!

The Glacial Ridge Veterinary clinic was watching his progress. They did x-ray’s to check the structure of his nose and snout. At this point, we were told we could put him through surgery to close the cleft, but putting the breathing tube in could be kind of tricky. Because he was eating regular foods and drinking with little difficulty, we decided not to proceed with the surgery. At his next appointment a couple of months later, our family vet said, “He is a miracle puppy.” Elvis sat on the metal exam table looking at her wagging his tail! The cleft pallet had almost completely closed on its own leaving only a small gap and the nasal deformity.

HartzElvis grew into an exceptional dog. He is very lovable and loyal. I can almost see the appreciation in his eyes when he looks at me. He has a lot of spunk too, which sometimes gets him in trouble, but that’s ok because we love him anyways! Elvis defied all the odds against him and had a will to live. He has taught me a lot about life. Sometimes things get difficult, but you should never give up. Big miracles can come in small packages too!

– Cindy Reichel, Hartz Facebook Fan