What’s crooked nose, teeth and cute all over? If you haven’t heard about Cletus, you will. This adorable shelter dog captivated me, and I think he will charm you, too.
Cletus is a Chihuahua mix with an extreme overbite, a crooked nose and fused joints, causing him to shuffle more than he walks. Found wandering on the streets of Los Angeles, Cletus was taken in by Best Friends Pet Adoption/Spay Neuter Center in Los Angeles from a kill shelter and, very quickly, made his mark as a spry guy with a big personality. Unfazed by his uniqueness or his disabilities, Cletus imparts some great life lessons for us humans. Fitting in is overrated.
He loves making friends and playing with toys, so who has time to worry about disabilities?!
It’s the differences that make us special
Cletus has tackled more challenges in his two years of life than many of us tackle in a lifetime. But, once he got over a pretty virulent respiratory infection, fostering really helped the little guy get ready for his forever home. Kudos to Angela Rovetto, administrative coordinator for Best Friends–Los Angeles for stepping in and up for Cletus.
As it turned out, Cletus’ disabilities didn’t affect his day to day living all that much. Aside from making minor modifications to his diet (Cletus has an easier time ingesting small, dry kibble) and keeping him separated from Angela’s big dog when she wasn’t around, Angela says fostering Cletus was the same as fostering any dog.
“People tend to see dogs like Cletus and immediately want to baby them,” says Angela. “But just because he’s not everyone’s idea of normal doesn’t mean he’s suffering. If anything, Cletus is happy being who he is.”
Enter the couple looking for different
Mark Enrietto and his girlfriend, Summer Esslinger, were looking for a dog to welcome into their home. They hadn’t found the right match until Summer saw Cletus’ photo on Instagram. It’s incredible how many people have found their canine significant other on Instagram. Our most recent rescue, Sofie, came into our lives via a new friend on IG, who’d seen her languishing in a kill shelter nearby. Summer knew she wanted a dog who was like no other, and Cletus certainly fit that bill.
“I think I found the one,” she told Mark.
Best Friends’ shared this meeting better than I could: That day, Mark paid a visit to the center to meet Cletus. The little dog was shy at first, but when Mark sat down on the ground, Cletus shuffled over to him, tail wagging, and made himself comfortable on Mark’s lap. It was clear: Cletus was indeed the one.
“Everything felt comfortable,” says Angela, who was there that day and helped with the adoption. “I could tell Cletus was going to a great home.”
And he so did. Today Cletus is a happy dog in a home where his differences are celebrated. “He’s showing us all his amazing abilities,” says Mark about Cletus, whose full name is Cletus Spuckler, after The Simpsons’ character who, like Mark, hails from Springfield, Illinois. Here’s Cletus Spuckler. There’s some resemblance there, you think? Kudos to Mark and Summer for opening their hearts and home to Cletus.
Cletus is gaining strength in his legs, dexterity in his limbs and getting braver every day, thanks to regular outings. Recently, Mark and Summer learned that Cletus is quite the little athlete, regularly sprinting and even leaping in the air at the dog park.
And, we also love Cletus because he has fashion sense, from his little green sweater or brash, burgundy scarf to his very own giraffe outfit.
The best part is that Cletus is happy in his new family just being a dog, albeit a very quirky and cute one.
“He’s a little stubborn, he’s the class clown, you can take him anywhere, and, like me, he loves his mom,” says Mark. Even though he looks quite different on the outside, Mark says, “He’s a dog in every way.” Smiling, yet? We so are.
Here’s a great little video intro of Cletus I loved and hope you will. too. What about you? Do you have a favorite shelter dog story to share?