In almost every way, Mickey is a typical English Bulldog. He has a sweet, gentle nature, and snuggling ranks at the top of his to-do list. The pup also loves to play.
Only a congenital disorder makes him the least bit different. He has spina bifida, which in dogs causes incontinence as well as weakness or paralysis of the back legs. Selina and Sandi Kenitzer adopted Mickey from Southern California Bulldog Rescue in June of 2012. He was four months old.
“We’ve been adopting rescue Bulldogs for 15 years now. Until him, we had always taken in older, harder-to-place ones nobody else wanted,” Selina says. “We weren’t looking for a puppy, but when we saw Mickey online he tugged at our hearts.”
She recalls her reaction to meeting him in person.
“I wanted to cry,” Selina says.
Because of the disorder, his back legs had splayed and could no longer bend because the bones had fused together. Mickey wore therapeutic hobbles to help reverse the splaying.
“Feeling sorry for him only lasted about 24 hours,” she says. “He was a typical puppy. The only differences were his funny little legs and that he had to wear a diaper. Neither affected his personality. He was a spitfire.”
Selina adds with a laugh, “It did take me a few days to get the diapering down. I had to wrestle him like an alligator, but it quickly became our normal.”
Mickey inspired the couple to adopt additional dogs with spina bifida, and now the Padded Bum Crew, as they are known on Facebook, totals five. The others are:
Surrendered to rescue in 2013 at the age of nine, she lived outside in a dirt backyard with other dogs for most of her life.
“We call her Bessie the Bulldozer. She doesn’t let anything stop her,” Selina says. “She will get what she wants when she wants it.”
Minnie, now 15 months old, came from a breeder, who surrendered her as a puppy after a vet advised euthanasia.
Fourteen-month-old Lilo also was a breeder-surrendered puppy, but she came all the way from Hawaii, hence the name.
Stitch came to Serina and Sandy walking on the elbows of his back legs, but after therapy at the School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of California, Davis, he uses the pads. He’s now 10 months old; a breeder also surrendered him.
The weakness in their back legs varies in severity, with only Mickey using a cart and only then when he really wants to pick up speed. There are also three rescue Bulldogs without special needs in the Kenitzer home: nine-year-old Oscar, eight-year-old Joey, and seven-year-old Emma.
Caring for members of the Padded Bum Crew requires a bit more attention and expense than the others, as they get their diapers changed three to four times a day and require ointments and supplements to prevent bladder infections. Selina says every minute and dollar are worth it.
“You learn so much from them. These dogs live in the moment. They don’t know they’re disabled. If I wake up and something hurts, I just have to watch Bessie drag herself to get whatever she wants and I stop complaining.”
Selina initially set up the Mickey the Bulldog and the Padded Bum Crew page on Facebook as a condition of his adoption; SCBR wants to save more special needs puppies from euthanasia by showing what excellent family members they make. Sharing photos and information about spina bifida dogs has become a passion for her.
“I want people to see them for the strong beings they are,” she says. “Don’t feel sorry for them because they don’t feel sorry for themselves. Look past the disability and see their strength.”
Also see their sweetness, which shines through in the many images Selina posts of Mickey and his pals enjoying thier favorite pastime: snuggling.
Keep up with the crew at the Mickey the Bulldog and the Padded Bum Crew page on Facebook.
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