Rocky the bulldog gets a new smile

An Olde English Bulldog in the Saint John area has a new stiff upper lip, thanks to a local veterinarian and a plastic surgeon.

Veterinarian and plastic surgeon repair cleft lip

Rocky the bulldog, pre- and post-surgery for his cleft lip. (Courtesy of Hampton Veterinary Hospital)

An Olde English Bulldog in the Saint John area has a new stiff upper lip, thanks to a local veterinarian and a plastic surgeon.

One-year-old Rocky was born with a cleft lip and a cleft in the first inch of his hard palate, which made it appear as though his mouth and nose were joined.

Dr. Sheila MacGowan, of the Hampton Veterinary Hospital, enlisted the help of facial reconstruction surgeon Dr. Don Lalonde, who works with Operation Smile, an organization that travels to Third World countries and does cleft lip repairs.

In Rocky's case, the surgery was purely cosmetic, said MacGowan.

But after being bounced around to four different homes at just a year old, it's something his new — and permanent — owners wanted, she said.

"They really wanted him to look better so dogs didn't make fun of him at the dog park," MacGowan said with a laugh.

"So, I know Don Lalonde, his wife, Jan, extremely well. They're wonderful animal lovers, and they're wonderful people, and so I sent him an email and I couldn't have gotten a faster response if I said, 'Don would you like a million dollars?'"

Lalonde volunteered his time and surgical skills to improve Rocky's overall look.

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