At seven months old, Eli the German Shepherd is thriving. A gorgeous puppy with soft, fluffy fur, he appears perfect in every way. However, at just five days old, Eli's story was very different, and veterinarians wondered whether he would live at all.
The beautiful pup was taken to the Ada Animal Hospital in Boise, Idaho, after his owners noticed that he was struggling to swallow food or put on any weight; he was almost half the size of his healthy littermates. An X-ray performed by the hospital revealed that Eli was suffering from a vascular ring anomaly. Dr. Wayne Loertscher explained: "The first part of the esophagus became distended and developed what we refer to as a megaesophagus… It was just not doing its job."
Indeed, Eli's esophagus was failing to push food through to his stomach, and had become virtually useless. Unable to take care of Eli, the pup's breeders surrendered him to the hospital, and a technician, Savannah Amberson, subsequently adopted him. Eli required immediate surgery on his esophagus, but, following three procedures, was only marginally better. Staff members fitted Eli with a feeding tube but were quickly running out of options.
Introducing the Bailey Chair, a special item of furniture designed specifically for dogs suffering with megaesophagus. Due to the delicate nature of these dogs' digestive systems, it is recommended that they eat while standing upright, a feat aided by this wonderful contraption. This upright position allows food to be pulled down the esophagus to the stomach by means of gravity. While it took Eli some time to get used to the chair, he has grown comfortable enough to eat, and even fall sleep, sitting in it.
Eli's special chair hasn't just made eating easier for the pup, it has also saved his life. The pup gained almost a third of his total body weight, some 30 pounds, within three weeks of being introduced to his new chair. All credit must go to pet parent Savannah for never giving up hope, and to the staff at the Ada Animal Hospital. What superstars!