Charlie Sparkle’s purpose in life is to make people happy. Born with Spina bifida, the 3-year-old English bulldog works his magic every week as a certified therapy dog in Logan, Utah. He scoots through the halls of the Sunshine Foundation’s Terrace Grove Assisted Living putting a smile on the faces of the residents.
Charlie’s pet mom, Maren Scott, adopted her paralyzed and incontinent dog from a breeder when he was a puppy. She added Sparkle to his name because she wanted the puppy to shine even with his disabilities.
Here is Charlie Sparkle at work.
“His name is Sparkle because you shouldn’t let anybody or anything take your sparkle,” said Scott. “He’s exuberant and happy and full of joy despite the fact that he’s completely messed up. I mean, his eye wanders, his pipshoot is in the wrong place, his legs don’t work, his wee falls out, he’s messed up. And he’s the embodiment of joy. He’s Charlie Sparkle.”
What is Spina bifidia?
The condition happens when one or more of a dog’s vertebrae do not properly fuse together in the womb. While the problem isn’t well-understood, researchers believe there is a strong genetic component that is somehow linked to malnutrition or the ingestion of toxins by the mother during pregnancy. Dogs with Spina bifida have problems walking, controlling their muscles and are usually incontinent. They can also have a drainage from their spine. The good news is Spina bifida doesn’t get worse with time. English bulldogs are one of the breeds prone to developing the condition.
When Charlie isn’t making patients’ smile, he can be found at home with his family that includes 8 cats and a dog named Tigger.