No One Wanted Pup With Cleft Lip, But Now His Crooked Smile Is Going Viral.

Puppies born with cleft palates aren’t able to nurse properly, and most don’t live past the first few days.

But Stefford, a Staffordshire terrier/Chihuahua mix, was already a year old when he was surrendered to the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (MSPCA) in Boston last summer. His human parents had recently become homeless and relinquished him with hopes that the shelter could both care for his medical needs and find a home where he’d have a better quality of life.

clefford cleft palate

Fortunately, the shelter is attached to the Angell Animal Medical Center, and after several corrective surgeries, Stefford’s cleft palate was reduced to a small hole. The surgery was so important because it significantly reduced the chances he’d develop a potentially life-threatening infection in his lungs.  Now he’s able to eat regular kibble and drink normally!


But best of all, the shelter is where he met Will. What most people viewed as a deformity, Will Stoltenberg saw as physical proof of Stefford’s will to survive.

clefford in cone

By the time Stefford arrived there, Will had been volunteering for about a year. He found himself drawn to the asymmetrical pup — or rather, because of his crooked nose and snaggle-toothed smile!

Several months into his stay at the shelter, this adorable pup finally went to his forever home!

smiling clefford

I was drawn to him because I wanted to be able to help him overcome his “disability.” I wanted to show him that the world is filled with fun and possibility. To be able to be the person that provides a great life to such a special pup was important to me.

It took some time for Stefford to heal physically from his surgeries, just as it took a while to overcome his life-long fears of women and anything that moved, from motorcycles to skateboards. Thanks to slow and repeated exposure, Will was able to help tame those fears, and Stefford now happily bounces up to anyone who crosses their path!


Because of the small hole in his palate, this furry survivor makes some rather unique noises, but other than that, he’s as happy go-lucky as any other well-loved pup, and Will plans to eventually get him certified as a therapy dog. How’d you like to be greeted like this?!


All dogs have their own unique qualities, both inside and out, and both good and bad, he adds. But “if you treat a dog right, any one of them will love you in return regardless of breed.”

What a lucky pup! His original parents relinquished him to the shelter so he could have a better life than they could provide, and things couldn’t have worked out more perfectly! Share to spread love to this special doggo!