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Today’s session is about Mega-esophagus and a special lady that helps dogs that have this.
It all began by accident and its now been 10 months since we built our first Bailey Chair for a precious Valley Bulldog named Gremlin, who has a condition called Canine Mega-esophagus.
My name is Susan and I have a service dog named Gigi. I am a 3 time Cancer survivor and am now battling cancer once again. During my treatments, I would try to find things to keep my mind occupied and I started sharing my life and travels with Gigi on a few of the social media networks, Instagram being one of them (@susan_and_gigi). I began following a woman named Chrissy and she followed me back. At one point, she commented on one of my photos showing a custom bed that my husband had made for Gigi. She absolutely loved the bed and jokingly asked if my husband could build a chair for her dog, Gremlin. Of course, I was curious why a dog would need a chair and had to ask Chrissy. She responded by telling me that Gremlin had a condition called Canine Mega-esophagus and needed to eat in an upright position. She suggested that I view their video on YouTube showing Gremlin and how he had to eat. Well, after seeing Gremlin in the video, I fell in love and built that precious dog a special chair, which is called a Bailey Chair. Chrissy invited me to join a Mega-esophagus support group and I was so impressed and humbled by the love and constant care provided by the owners of these special dogs. The financial burden of this condition is daunting and the need for Bailey Chairs is essential to the survival of these dogs.
I’m sure by now, you are wondering what Canine Mega-esophagus is….
Mega-esophagus is difficult to detect and diagnose and the medical options are few. The muscles of the esophagus fail and it cannot propel food or water into the stomach (Its like a balloon that has been inflated several times and then hangs limp). The result is that ingested food sits in the esophagus within the chest cavity and never makes it to the stomach.
The most serious complication is that digestive fluid/food will at some point pool in the esophagus, which generally results in aspiration (breathing in), of digestive fluid/food, leading to pneumonia (Aspiration Pneumonia). Mega-esophagus can occur at any age.
Symptoms include the following:
Regurgitation of water, mucous or food (Regurgitation is throwing up without any warning; not to be confused with vomiting, which is associated with retching). Loss of appetite or refusal to eat. Sudden weight loss. Swallowing difficulty, exaggerated and/or frequent swallowing. They will also try to clear their throat frequently with a hacking sound. Sour and/or foul smelling breath. Many canines may be misdiagnosed with a gastrointestinal problems. Aspiration Pneumonia is a frequent complication. When Chrissy posted a picture of Gremlin in his new chair, we received so many responses from people wanting to know how they could purchase a chair. It was then, that I realized we had to help and we began making Bailey Chairs for whoever needed them. As we continued to make chairs for these precious dogs, I always posted pictures of the chairs on all of my social networking sites (Instagram, Facebook, etc.).
We received so many responses from people who were interested, that we decided to start a donation site called Bailey Chairs 4 Dogs www.baileychairs4dogs.com . This allowed people to donate money for a chair for their own dog, or for another dog in need whose owner could not afford the cost of a chair. The cost of building a Bailey Chair can vary depending on the size, but we only ask for the amount needed to purchase materials and ship the chair. None of the proceeds go towards the labor of these chairs, as they are built out of love for these dogs. We build these chairs in our garage during my husband’s spare time.
Over the past 10 months, we have built over 327 chairs. 213 of those have been donated. We have also donated chairs to over 27 rescue/shelters nationwide. For every chair we sell, we donate a chair. We have also been able to donate chairs thanks to private donations and donations from Companies such as Hoff Productions, Mary Kay, Scentsy, and For Tails Only. It absolutely amazes me the support we have received from total strangers. They all come together for the good of the dog, our canine companion, and it is a beautiful thing to see. We ship chairs all over the U.S and have even shipped chairs to Canada, Australia, Ireland and England.
As I mentioned before, for every chair that is purchased, we donate a chair and we recently had a local family purchase a chair for their Chihuahua, Diego. We were then able to donate a chair to Hero, a German Shepherd being cared for by Tamara at Animal Rescue Recon in Brentwood, Ca. They both showed up at the same time to pick up their chairs and were able to meet one another. It was very touching. We truly love making these chairs for our fellow fur friends and hope that people continue to come together and help us get chairs to all those in need. We also hope that this article brings understanding and awareness about the severity of this condition, to all dog owners. Mega-esophagus is not discriminating and can affect all breeds of dogs.
For more information on Mega-esophagus or on how you can donate to help us build Bailey Chairs, please visit the following sites.
Susan and her husband are awesome! They are providing a much needed service and chairs to some very deserving and needy dogs. Please help them continue to help dogs in need by spreading the word and this article.
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