Discarded, Sweet Puppy Hopes to Learn to Walk

Charlotte has charmed everyone along the way.

Charlotte Cavalier King Charles puppy

Fred Strobel

Charlotte is the happiest, sweetest puppy.

Everyone she meets is her immediate best friend, ready to be showered with licks and snuggles. Her long tail constantly whips back and forth with excitement. If you pick her up, she sighs contentedly and immediately settles in for cuddles.

A gorgeous Cavalier King Charles spaniel, Charlotte can’t really walk. She has two severely displaced knee caps (called patellar luxation) that force her legs to curl up to her body. She gets around by walking on her knees.

Charlotte is my newest foster puppy, saved by Speak Rescue and Sanctuary. Her first story is an unfortunate one. She was sold by a breeder to a pet store. The store returned her when they saw her wonky legs, likely made worse by her confinement in a small cage. The breeder took her to a vet to be euthanized and someone at the vet’s office called Speak to see if they could help.

And that’s when her story changed.

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After consultations with veterinarians and orthopedic surgeons, Charlotte had surgery this week on both legs. Her surgeon said her issues were some of the worst she’s ever seen. She had to perform a lot of soft tissue work to release muscles that Charlotte hasn’t been using in her legs. She put in sutures to hold her kneecaps in the correct position. With everything in place, the hope is that she will eventually be able to walk.

There are four grades of patellar luxation and Charlotte's is the most severe. The condition can be inherited or it can be caused by trauma. Charlotte’s possibly was a combination of both.

Charlotte has charmed everyone along the way. She has loads of fans who follow her progress on the rescue’s social media. I get messages every day from friends and strangers who keep up with her on Instagram and want to know how she’s doing.

Her surgery was not inexpensive, and it was only the first one. She’ll need at least one more in a few months when she’s older and her bones are more mature. The rescue has had several fundraisers to help pay the mounting costs. There’s even a T-shirt fundraiser featuring my dog, Brodie, who has fostered nearly 60 puppies and will protect his latest charge.

Brodie and Charlotte

Mary Jo DiLonardo

Road to Recovery

Charlotte’s surgeon is “cautiously optimistic” about her prognosis. She says Charlotte will never be “normal,” but we think she's perfect already, and the goal is to have her be able to move without pain. There’s little doubt that she has been in pain most of her short 4-month life. Occasionally she will yelp when she’s picked up or as she settles herself on her bed.

If the surgeries don’t work, at some point there could be a discussion about getting her a cart or maybe amputation. But we are nowhere near that yet. All the members of Charlotte’s team are also cautiously optimistic.

Charlotte the puppy after surgery

Speak Rescue and Sanctuary

Now she will have pain medication and lots of physical therapy and cold compresses as she recovers. And who can discount all the people who are pulling for her and wishing her well?

Some people might question why so many resources are being devoted to one animal.

They obviously have never met Charlotte. One look into her huge, sweet eyes or one wag of her tufted tail is enough to understand.

Follow Mary Jo's foster puppies on Instagram @brodiebestboy.

View Article Sources
  1. "Patellar Luxations." American College of Veterinary Surgeons.

  2. "Patellar Luxation." Orthopedic Foundation for Animal.