When Nita Pickering received a photo of an ailing Bulldog puppy, she was all in. “It was love at first sight,” recalls the Yuma, Arizona resident.

There was just one problem. Spanky had fading puppy syndrome. With this condition, neonatal pups fail to thrive within the first two weeks of life, often resulting in death. Contributing factors include lack of mothering, inadequate nursing or milk consumption, congenital defects which may not be immediately apparent, low birth weight, and infectious causes, says VCA Hospital.

At just five days old, it wasn’t looking good for Spanky. His littermates hadn’t survived, and he had been surrendered by his owners to the rescue group Josh and his Critters. Still, rescue founder Tina Lythgoe held out hope for the little pup they called Spanky. She sent a photo to Nita, saying she had the “perfect puppy” for her.


All dogs need to know love even if they are not ‘perfect’, they give you back more love as they know you gave them a second chance in life!


Tina is known for taking on the most challenging cases, accepting last-leg dogs from individuals who are unable (or sometimes unwilling) to help their dogs, or plucking the dogs no one else will take from shelters. She’s not one to go down without a fight.

Spanky required tube feedings every two hours around the clock. Under Tina’s watch, he also received veterinary care, including an injection of plasma along with subcutaneous fluids, says Nita. An incubator, antibiotics, and prayers were also employed.

It worked. By eight weeks of age, the failing pup was healthy and ready to go to his new home.

“When we went to pick up Spanky, I was over the top with excitement,” says Nita. “Getting a rescue from Josh and His Critters was the best thing ever! Knowing the hard work Tina put into Spanky to save his life—I am forever grateful for her.”

Spanky is now the picture of health and doesn’t require any special care aside from the consideration all Bulldogs need. As Nita notes, the breed is not for everyone. 

Adopting a Bulldog does take special care,” says Nita. “Their skin can be sensitive. They can also have allergies—every Bulldog is different. After bathing you need to dry their folds in their face and tail pocket. I also apply ‘wrinkle’ cream to his nose folds. Some Bulldogs can develop ‘cherry eye’ and require surgery.” 

For his part, Spanky developed entropion (when the lower lashes roll into the eye and cause irritation) and had to have eye surgery. To Nita, it was a small price to pay. “Bulldogs are an expensive breed to own but so worth every penny!”

A rescue advocate, she definitely thinks you should take a chance on a second-hand dog too. “All dogs need to know love even if they are not ‘perfect’,” she says. “They give you back more love as they know you gave them a second chance in life!”