The Mighty Little One

This tiny little girl is Tilly. Tilly means “mighty in battle”. Her foster family gave her this name the day they began fostering her, when she was just two days old, because they knew she needed a fierce name. 
This precious puppy was given to Cavalier Rescue USA after her breeder discovered she wasn’t gaining weight due to having a cleft palate and not being able to properly nurse from her mother. Unequipped to care for a puppy with this condition, her breeder asked us to take her. Of course we stepped in and immediately brought Tilly into foster care.
Puppies with a significant cleft palate are unable to create enough suction when nursing. The milk they do receive from their mother while nursing, travels from the mouth to the nose, causing sneezing, nasal discharge, nasal irritation, regurgitation, and gagging. Without the ability to nurse properly, puppies with a cleft palate do not get proper nutrition and can be lethargic, with a poor rate of growth. Cleft palate puppies are also at a high risk of breathing in food and water, causing aspiration pneumonia. Newborn puppies with cleft palates must be tube fed in order to receive proper nutrition and a chance to survive. 
Tilly needed immediate attention. She was tiny, only weighing 5.3 ounces, and was very lethargic and dehydrated. Her foster mom began tube feeding Tilly every 2 hours and saw dramatic improvements after that began. She became more vocal and wiggly, and began gaining weight. 
Tilly is now three weeks old and is living up to her name!  She’s been a fierce litte girl and has almost tripled her weight, dealt with an upper respiratory infection, eye infection, and other things that come along with tube feeding a fragile newborn puppy with a compromised immune system. 
Her foster mom has routinely tube fed Tilly and has had the help from her three daughters. They help with twice daily weight checks, helping Tilly go potty, keeping Tilly’s whelping box warm, clean, and cozy, and most importantly, providing Tilly with tons and tons of snuggles. 
Tilly’s eyes are open now and she’s wobbling and walking around and makes the cutest little noises. She’s hitting all of her puppy milestones right on time, but she still has a long road ahead of her. She’ll need to be taught to eat and drink properly without aspirating, and once she’s old enough, she will be evaluated by a specialist to determine the severity of her cleft palate and if she will need surgery to correct it. 
We’re happy she’s doing so well and very likely will go on to live a happy, healthy life. It’s a labor of love for our family and rescue group ❤️.