Shelter Volunteer Falls In Love With Dog’s Unusual Smile


We’ve seen how love can transform a dog, but this dog was changed both inside and out thanks to one shelter volunteer.

Clefford’s story starts on the streets. According to TheDodo, Clefford’s original family was homeless, and unable to care for his medical needs. His cleft palate caused him pain when he ate regular kibble, and though surgery could repair the issue, his family was unable to afford it. They made a tough decision, and surrendered Clefford to the care of Angell Animal Medical Center in Boston with the hope of giving him a better life.

Though many dogs have trouble adjusting to a shelter environment and will clam up or act out, Clefford remained the same sweet dog he had always been. Shelter staff and volunteers fell in love with his big eyes and friendly demeanor. One volunteer, Will Stoltenberg, felt particularly drawn to Clefford. He tells The Dodo,

“As I would go around checking on the dogs, I always found myself coming back to his kennel to give him scratches and tell him what a good boy he was. He has an infectious smile and always seemed happy to see me when I came by.”

That infectious smile may have been a little unusual, but it won Clefford a place in Will’s heart and his home!

“In the end I just had to adopt him. I wanted to give him the life he deserved and months in a kennel was certainly not it.”

Will learned a lot more about Clefford once he got him out of the shelter environment – mainly that Clefford was afraid of everything! The pup shied away from women, cars, skateboards, and children, but Will took the time to patiently help Clefford get used to the world outside his shelter kennel. With Will’s guidance and encouragement, Clefford gained the confidence he needed to enjoy being outside.

After a year together, Will says Clefford not only likes his walks, but greets every person he meets on the way! Will has also seen Clefford through four surgeries to correct his cleft palate, which has now become a small hole in the roof of his mouth and an adorably crooked snout!

Will’s care has helped transform this good boy both inside and out – and Clefford has transformed Will into a camera-happy dog dad! You can keep up with Will and Clefford and see more pictures on Clefford’s Instagram!

Featured Photo: @clefford_the_dog/Instagram

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