A spirited English bulldog who was held back by a catalogue of breed-related health problems is now living life to the full in a new home, thanks to Blue Cross.

Dennis arrived at our Kimpton rehoming centre in October last year, aged two, as a result of him not getting along with another dog in his previous home, and it quickly became apparent to our team that he was very poorly.

English bulldogs are classed as a brachycephalic breed; this means they are shorter-nosed and flat-faced, and often suffer from breathing problems as a result. A range of other health issues from skin complaints to eye problems are also common among brachycephalic dogs, which are often bred irresponsibly to meet demand.

Sarah Miller, Animal Welfare Assistant, said: “Dennis had already had nasal widening and soft palate surgery. However, following a routine health check at the centre, it was evident that the previous surgeries had not made much of a difference.

“Like many other brachycephalic breeds, Dennis’s welfare and health were compromised as a result of his flat nose and face. He was struggling to breathe and could only run for around five to 15 minutes before he collapsed due to a lack of oxygen.

“On top of this, he had very sore eyes and skin because of the excess skin folds attributable to the breed and an underbite.”

Dennis outside in the garden with Annie, Paul and Ronnie

The team were deeply concerned about Dennis but it was clear that he had an unwavering zest for life, and he was referred to our flagship animal hospital in Victoria for further assessment.

Dennis needed further surgery on his nostrils to help him to breathe, as well as surgery on both eyes to correct a genetic condition known as entropion, in which the eyelids grow inwards causing pain and inflammation.

“His eye problem was causing him masses of discomfort, which isn’t rare in these types of dogs, where they’ve got lots of extra skin. His eyelashes were going into his eyes and causing discomfort,” explained Sarah.

Sadly for Dennis, the recovery from his operations was a rocky one. His foster carers began noticing that he was having small seizures and, while various tests didn’t show anything unusual, it was suspected that he had something called idiopathic head tremor syndrome (IHT), which causes involuntary shaking in dogs.

Dennis rests his head on Annie's lap
Dennis could not be happier in his new home with Annie, Paul and Ronnie.

He was closely monitored and his condition improved, with his carers learning that noises such as scrunching some paper can bring him out of a seizure. Getting him to lose weight also helped.

Dennis had been set to have further surgery on his soft palate to improve breathing and the skin rolls on his face, but due to the seizures he was experiencing, our vets decided that it was best to leave further operations alone.

Sarah said: “The team instead decided to put Dennis up for rehoming in the hope that someone would be willing to take him just as he was. After just a couple of weeks, the team were over the moon when Dennis found his new home. His new owners loved the breed and were not put off by his medical issues and his uncertain future.”

“He just took our eye,” said Annie Hutchings. “He just looked like a real character and when we read the write up on the website about him, it was all about his personality. We visited him and he was really pleased to see us.”

Dennis lying on the floor with head on ground

Her husband, Paul, said: “We took him for a walk around the field and then the second time we went to see him he was dead excited to see us again.”

Dennis, who is now three, has lived with the couple and their foster son, Ronnie, in Bedfordshire, since March.

His vibrant character continues to shine through and he has had no further seizures. The only treatment he needs at present is daily drops to stop his eyes from getting too dry, which he accepts without fuss in return for a treat.

Annie said: “He seems to be doing everything that he wants to do. And if he doesn’t want to do something, he’ll just stop. If he’s had enough he slows down.”

Dennis outside in garden getting a fuss from Annie
Annie and Paul say that Dennis has brought lots of fun and laughter to their lives.

“We were told that he can’t do that, he can’t do this. But here he is, full of energy. He’ll run around the garden by himself. He can literally sprint; not for very long, but he has a sudden turn of speed and he’s gone,” said Paul.

The couple said that they had considered getting a puppy, but that the money they saved through rehoming Dennis will go towards any potential health expenses that may be needed in the future.

They couldn’t be happier to have Dennis in their lives, and nor can he.

“He’s loveable and playful,” said Paul. “He’s brought us lots of fun and laughter, for sure.”

Annie added: “He’s got his own little character. And it’s made us come together more. Because, before, we’d all do our own stuff, whereas now we’re all here and doing things as a family.”

Dennis rolling on his back on the sofa with Ronnie fussing him

— Page last updated 12/09/2019