October 24, 2014 - 7:29 AM
KELOWNA – Shauna Racich wasn’t planning on getting a dog.
She already had her hands full with three kids age three and six, and her newborn Emma was born with a cleft lip and palate that would require multiple surgeries to repair.
But when she saw and read about L.C., a French bulldog/Boston terrier mix born with the same condition as Emma, she knew it was meant to be.
“When I found the dog on Facebook it was just what I was looking for,” she says.
L.C., short for Little Cleft, belonged to Penticton resident Tia Saunders. After reading about the benefits kids get from having a pet with their same condition, Saunders decided to try and find a soul mate for the young pup.
“I read a bit about (the benefits) somewhere and they were saying how it boosts the kids’ confidence and self-esteem and I thought it was a really great idea,” Saunders said.
Saunders was originally looking for a family with an older child but after meeting Racich and her three kids, she realized that this was just who she and L.C. were waiting for.
“I felt like we could really help L.C. because we don’t see it as a negative thing,” Racich says. “We see it as a positive. We’ve learned so much from Emma already.”
Racich picked L.C. up early September, a day after Emma’s last surgery. Already the two have started bonding and L.C. will climb onto baby Emma’s lap for their many daily naps.
“Emma’s too young to know what they have in common but they spend a lot of time together,” she says. “They have definitely bonded.”
Racich is not planning on getting L.C.’s lip fixed as she is now eating on her own and her breathing is normal.
“She’s just a happy little dog,” she says. “She’s running around the house and playing with the kids. It’s hilarious.”
It’s too early to tell if Emma is getting any benefit from L.C. because of their shared condition but Racich says the dog has helped her other two kids understand just how special their sister is.
“Every time our kids introduce our dog to somebody they always say she’s got a cleft lip just like their baby sister,” Racich says. “It’s really cute. We’re so blessed to have her.”
Racich has also set up a Facebook page to help parents of kids with similar conditions cope with the challenges and share their stories.
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