JENN CLAYTON CAN’T LOOK AT HER DOG RUBY WITHOUT BREAKING INTO A GRIN. “HER SMILE MELTS ME, “CLAYTON TELLS THE DODO. “SHE HAS ONE OF THE MOST EXPRESSIVE FACES I’VE EVER SEEN ON A DOG.”
Besides Ruby’s happy face, Clayton says she has expressions for when she’s feeling serious, worried or mischievous. But Ruby’s face isn’t just expressive — it’s also unique. The 3-year-old dog, pit bull mix was born with a cleft lip and palate, the latter of which eventually needed surgery.
On both sides of her nose where her lip never grew together,” Clayton explains. “The cleft palate prior to surgery was just a hole that ran straight down the middle of her palate, all the way from the front to the very back.
“Clayton doesn’t exactly know what caused Ruby’s cleft lip and palate, but it probably has to do with genetics and environmental factors.
“The general consensus is that clefts are caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors,” she explains. “It’s considered to have a genetic component, so breeders are discouraged from breeding an animal that has had a cleft palate pup in the past.
But environmental factors such as Mom’s exposure to certain toxins during pregnancy can also contribute.”
While the cleft lip is more cosmetic, the cleft palate was a serious problem that almost cost Ruby her life. When Ruby was a newborn puppy, it prevented her from nursing.
“I volunteer for the Utah Animal Advocacy Foundation; an organization that specializes in the rescue and rehabilitation of ‘special needs’ animals,” Clayton says.
“Ruby’s breeder sent us an email within hours of Ruby’s birth. Since I work full-time and knew that Ruby would require round-the-clock care, I encouraged the breeder to take her into her vet and learn how to tube-feed and care for Ruby on her own.
But a couple of days later, I got another email saying that Ruby was dying.”