We proudly share this guest post from our VETMED Cares featured organization this quarter, Saving Paws Rescue!
What’s the old saying about when life gives you lemons? Poor little Eva is the poster dog for this saying. But just like lemonade, Eva is as bright and full of sunshine as you can imagine. She’s a happy 7-8-month-old German Shepherd, who unfortunately, has a serious, life-threatening condition called Megaesophagus (Mega E).
Mega E is an enlargement of the esophagus, a muscular tube that connects the throat to the stomach. Dogs with Mega E are unable to get food through from the throat to the stomach and can easily die from complications associated with this condition. Poor Eva was already very skinny before she arrived at Saving Paws Rescue because she wasn’t able to get the nourishment her body needs.
Saving Paws is proud to be a part of the close-knit rescue community that extends throughout Arizona, which includes our friends at VETMED, PACC911’s LuLu’s Angel Fund and the Miracle GSD Network, who worked with us to help save this sweet girl, despite the challenges she’s starting out with. We have never believed that age, medical condition or behavioral issues should mean a death sentence for a dog. There was never a question: Eva would be brought to Saving Paws Rescue.
Eva was initially adopted from the Yuma Humane Society (YHS), but her adopters realized they couldn’t afford the thousands of dollars required for the evaluation and specialized care this precious girl would need. The staff at Yuma Humane Society reached out to our Executive Director, Trisha Houlihan, to see if we would have a place for this girl, as she would be returned to the shelter and likely euthanized. Trish has taken in other YHS dogs and had great success. We knew we would need help — veterinary care for special needs dogs isn’t cheap! Our amazing partners didn’t let us down. PACC911 LuLu’s Angel Fund came through with a grant and the Miracle GSD Network raised additional private donations. Honestly, none of us can do the work we do all alone. It really takes the help of many organizations working together for some of these tough medical cases, which Saving Paws is proud to specialize in.
VETMED Surgeon Mary Ann Radlinsky got a chance to examine Eva. Dr. Radlinsky and the veterinary staff have always taken care of our sick and injured dogs. In Eva’s case, Dr. Radlinsky needed to evaluate the severity of Eva’s Mega E through Barium x-rays and a full physical. Sadly, Dr. Radlinsky confirmed that surgery is not a viable option to correct this condition. Eva will require feeding in a special Bailey Chair for the rest of her life. Our long-time volunteer and adopter of another SPR Mega E dog, Michelle, quickly gathered supplies so a custom chair could be constructed and Eva could be trained to use it right away. The Bailey Chair is designed to keep the dog upright while eating so that gravity can help food reach the stomach and keep the dog upright while the food is digested after eating. In a Mega E dog, not eating in an upright position causes the food to come right back up, and very little ever reaches the dog’s stomach. Or, the dog can aspirate, which can lead to serious aspiration pneumonia. Poor Eva was starving to death.
Eva got a chance to try out her new Bailey Chair and get her first lesson in the lobby of VETMED in between her evaluation appointment with Dr. Radlinsky. The doctor got in a few snuggles with our girl as well.
We have amazing fosters who do not flinch when called to duty to help a special needs dog. Frequent fosters, John and Deb, stepped in to foster this girl, as they have previous experience with Mega E. They are already working on her training, and so far, while she doesn’t care for wet kibble, she loves “satin balls” made from raw beef, eggs, molasses and a few other key, high-protein ingredients. It’s easier for Mega E dogs to chew and swallow these small nuggets. And, there’s a bonus, they pack a lot of nutrition in each bite!
Eva’s current weight is significantly below that of a typical German Shepherd her age. With patience and training, we are all confident that she will learn to use her chair and begin the process of gaining weight. Once Eva gains weight and is fully trained to use her Bailey chair, she’ll be ready for a new forever home with a loving and experienced family that is dedicated to ensuring her health and happiness for the rest of her life. We have no doubt that this lucky family will be rewarded 10 times over with Eva’s love and loyalty. I mean, look at this face!
We will keep everyone up to date on Eva’s progress on our Facebook page. If you are interested in supporting Eva on her journey or want to help other special needs dogs frequently rescued by the volunteers of Saving Paws rescue, you can donate and learn more at savingpawsrescueaz.org.
Saving Paws Rescue AZ is an all-volunteer, 501 (c) (3) charitable organization in Phoenix, Ariz., dedicated to providing veterinary care, evaluation and adoptive homes for German Shepherd Dogs , Belgian Malinois and others who are left in the pound to await uncertain fate, are owner surrenders (divorce, death, etc.) or are from abusive or negligent situations. We help provide safe harbor for German Shepherds and other breeds that might otherwise be destroyed.