Disabled from birth, abandoned, rescued. This beat-the-odds Bulldog pup sparkles with spunk.
By KL Snyder | Photography by Kelvin Andow
With Betty Boop, the pictures speak for themselves,” says Chris Maddox, a rescuer, friend and fan of the peppy puppy with the funny name.
The pictures do indeed speak for themselves. And a picture is worth a thousand words. “Cute” is one of them—or, in Betty Boop’s case, lots of them.
But cute Bulldog Boop is more than her shiny black-trimmed-in-white fur coat, soulful dark eyes and sweet smushy face. This little miss has a story. Here it is, told by her rescuers.
On December 6 when she arrived at Burnsville Animal Control, Betty was four or five months old and small for her age. (By early February she weighed 20 lbs.) A boy found Betty, alone in the middle of a spacious park. Her front legs, especially the left, were crippled, so bent and crooked she couldn’t have gotten there by herself.
“Somebody dumped her because of her deformity,” Maddox says. “My guess is some backyard breeder trying to breed miniature Bulldogs.”
Naturally, the boy wanted to keep the pup. Alas, his dad said no.
A cute, happy, amazing puppy
“A father and son brought Betty Boop in in a little crate,” says Burnsville Animal Control officer Gretchen Allickson.
“She was a cute little puppy, cute and wiggly and squirmy. You could see that her legs were deformed, but she didn’t let that stop her. She was so cute. And so happy.” The pain she must’ve been in didn’t subdue Betty’s exuberance. “She was just amazing.”
Boop also bewitched Allickson’s colleague, Kim Johnson. Their boss was taken, too, and he named the diminutive Bulldog Tulip because he thought she looked like one.
Tulip basked in the attention and affection she got at the Burnsville shelter; but no matter how hard they try, public shelters can’t provide the comfort of foster-based rescues. “Sometimes we have animals here for a long time,” says Allickson. “It’s kind of like being in jail.”
Tulip’s stay, though, wouldn’t have lasted long. Animal Control took her to a veterinarian who examined her and recommended euthanizing her. Allickson and Johnson emphatically did not concur. “We were very glad when Kim thought of Chris Maddox and his new rescue group,” Allickson says.
The Rescue Crew to the rescue
“I fell in love with Betty Boop, just when I saw her picture,” says Maddox, founder and president of The Rescue Crew. When he met the pup on December 16, he fell more in love.
“She has personality-plus and a zest for life. She’s friendly and funny. A munchkin. She loves belly rubs. She’s full of piss and vinegar. She doesn’t know she’s handicapped.”
The Rescue Crew placed Tulip in a foster home, renamed her Betty Boop (after a 1930s cartoon character that she resembles as much as she does a tulip) and took her to another vet, who referred her for an orthopedic consultation. And on January 4, Betty underwent a trifecta of procedures:
- An ulnar ostectomy to fix her left leg.
- A soft palate resection to fix potential breathing problems that are common in
Bulldogs and other push-face breeds.
- A spay to, well, fix her.
Triple surgeries? A breeze for BB. Maddox dropped her off at 8 and picked her up at 3.
“She was still her feisty little self. Except for the tape [pink with purple hearts] wrapped around her leg, you wouldn’t know she’d had surgery.”
Boop’s faves: food, snow, sunshine
Deb Morgan, Betty’s foster, had careful and noble plans to keep the post-surgery pup quiet. Betty had opposing plans. Just preventing the irrepressible puppy from jumping around was a challenge, says Morgan, who owns a Rottweiler and a bully mix and specializes in fostering rescue pups.
“The Boopster is my first Bulldog,” she says. She’s teaching the Boopster skills and tricks; and the Boopster is tutoring her in The Nature of Betty Boop Bulldog.
One standout trait is stubbornness. “Give me a pliable Pit Bull any day,” Morgan says with a laugh. Another trait is intelligence. “She’s a smart little girl. She catches on quickly.”
Betty likes to eat, play in snow and splash in slush. “She would go slopping through anything.” Her preferred place is outside.
Outdoors or in, she loves the sun, Morgan says. “She takes her blanket and hoodie and follows the sun around the room.”
“Betty is a typical puppy. Mouthy. She is now wrestling my slipper—my slipper that’s on my foot.” Betty uses the grab-toe tactic often. “It’s her way of saying, ‘You need to pay attention to me.’”
Morgan provides socialization opportunities, great fun for Betty who adores playing with other pups. And with people. “She’s not timid or shy, and she loves everybody.”
When she first came to Morgan’s, Betty Boop was a puppy without zoomies. The lack concerned Morgan. Zoomies, after all, are basic baby dog behavior. Not to worry, Deb. Soon Boopster felt the urge; and as a bonus, her tininess elevates the entertainment value.
“Betty has made remarkable progress,” says Morgan. “She’s using her leg a lot more. She’s always going to be a special needs dog, but it doesn’t slow her down. She’s a little love with a mind of her own.”
In early February, Boop visited the surgeon for a recheck. Whatever the ulna cut is, X-rays showed it isn’t healing—and that’s good because now her bones can grow.
And because no further procedures are likely to benefit her leg, Betty is available for adoption. She’s attracted two applications already. Maddox says he’s sure she’ll be settled happily in her new home before Wagazine goes to print.
The wonderful news about Tulip-cum-Betty Boop delights her pals at Burnsville Animal Control. “Betty Boop will be a special memory for both Kim and me,” Allickson says. “I’m so happy for her.”
KL Snyder is a Rochester, Minn., freelancer who hopes the spring Wagazine will bring the spring season, even though the thaw will disappoint Betty Boop.