Cletus doesn’t look like most dogs, but his (we think adorable) differences make him special … and he’s a regular, little dog in every other way.
His birth defects — fused joints and a funny little face courtesy of a crooked nose and pronounced overbite — give him a unique walk and look, but along with those come a sweet demeanor and lovable nature that he’s happy to share with the world.
Cletus came to the Los Angeles location for Best Friends Animal Society/Spay Neuter Center after spending time as a stray in one of the city’s shelters. He was suffering from a serious respiratory infection. A round of antibiotics cleared that up and once he was feeling better, he was placed in foster care where his spunky personality began to emerge.
Angela Rovetto, administrative coordinator for Best Friends, was his foster mom. She carefully monitored his behavior around other animals (he loves them!) and how much his mobility issues affect him (not much, it turned out!).
“People tend to see dogs like Cletus and immediately want to baby them,” Rovetto said in a Best Friends blog post. “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.”
Mark Enrietto and his girlfriend, Summer Esslinger, had been looking for a dog to welcome into their home, but they hadn’t found the right match — that is, until the day that Summer saw Cletus’ photo on Instagram.
“I think I found the one,” she told Mark.
Enrietto visited the center to meet Cletus and while he was shy at first, the little dog eventually shuffled over, tail wagging, and made himself comfortable on Mark’s lap. Esslinger had been right: Cletus was indeed the one.
“Everything felt comfortable,” said Rovetto, who helped with the adoption. “I could tell Cletus was going to a great home.”
Today Cletus is happy to be in a home where his differences are celebrated. “He’s showing us all his amazing abilities,” says Mark about Cletus,.
He’s also gaining dexterity and getting braver every day, thanks to regular outings to help strengthen his legs. Cletus is actually quite athletic, regularly sprinting and even leaping at the dog park. Mostly though, like every other dog, he just wants to be loved.
“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.”