Nothing is better than fun little surprises during the holiday season! Well, this month we got our fair share of surprises here in rescue. We’ve taken in three very special needs dogs this month and one vet appointment after another has revealed some not-so-nice surprises as each of these dogs requires more and more medical attention.
Here are the stories of Kenga, Chunk and Irish – all of whom are in desperate need of a holiday miracle.
When Kenga arrived to rescue we assumed she’d be a happy healthy puppy. Her ragged and patchy fur told a very different story. She was excessively skinny and was having trouble keeping her food down so we took a trip to the vet to try and get some answers. X-rays led them to believe that Kenga might be suffering from Esophagitis, a temporary inflammation or infection of the esophagus, or Megaesophagus a more permanent condition where the muscles of the esophagus do not work and food and water cannot be moved into the stomach.
Kenga was put on a two week trial to figure out exactly what here prognosis is. During this time she is on medication to try and decrease the swelling and fluid in her throat, to prevent infection, and to keep food down.
Kenga is currently eating from baby highchair since she needs to eat sitting up and then stay that way for 20 minutes after eating to keep the food down. A middle school shop class in Wayzata has offered to build her a Bailey Chair to help her eat more comfortably and that should arrive soon!
Kenga has a follow up visit scheduled for the December 21. If she is diagnosed with Megaesophagus she will likely have to live with medication, a special diet and a Bailey Chair for the rest of her life.
Update 12.18.18: It is with great sadness that we have to share the passing of our little Kenga. Since we introduced her last week, her health declined rapidly. Despite treatment and medication, her esophagus continued to swell and press on her trachea which was very painful and made it impossible for her to breathe. We had to make the heartbreaking decision to let her go. Kenga’s foster, Autumn, has been an amazing comfort to her throughout her short journey. If loved could have saved Kenga, Autumn was the right person to give it a try. Rest in peace, sweet Kenga.
Old English Bulldog
Chunk has already had a very long journey in his short life. He originated in Europe where he was sold to a local breeder and shipped to Minnesota. When he arrived, the breeder found that he had a multitude of health problems and refused to breed him to prevent his issues from being passed down the genetic lines. He surrendered Chunk to rescue with the hopes that we could address his problems and offer him some quality of life.
This amazingly handsome dog was believed to have hip dysplasia, cherry eye, a deviated septum and some major trouble breathing. We took him in and immediately scheduled a vet appointment.
The good news: At this time Chunk’s hips are not causing him any physical pain. Vets did not recommend any surgery if/until there is discomfort. His third eyelid is folding up and drying out, giving the appearance of cherry eye. But then it moves back into place, re-hydrates and is “normal” again. Again, we’ll watch for any signs of discomfort and address his eye’s needs at that time.
The bad news: Chunk is having a hard time breathing normally. He will require surgery to widen his nostrils and may need to have his pustules and/or tonsils removed as well. Once he is out, the surgeon will also look at what repairs are needed for his elongated soft palate and they will move forward with whatever is needed to make the surgery successful for Chunk.
Chunk is scheduled for surgery on January 8. We’re hopeful that the doctors will be able to fix his breathing and that will offer him some relief as we continue to treat and monitor his other issues.
Chunk’s estimated medical costs are $1,500
Our youngest little patient, Irish, is the most severe of our holiday miracle cases.
At only six weeks old, the tiny puppy was having trouble walking on his back legs and was incontinent. It was clear he had some spinal issues, possibly scoliosis. We scheduled an appointment with our vets who referred us to a neurologist for a full work up of tests, including an MRI. We were worried that scoliosis in a puppy this young would most certainly lead to paralysis as he grew up, with nothing we could do to help him.
After his MRI, the neurologist consulted with other canine neurologist around the country before calling us. The MRI confirmed that Irish has scoliosis and that the vertebrae in his back that “dip” are not causing any compression, they are formed and stable. What is causing a 20% compression of his spine is an accumulation of spinal fluid on the cord. Basically, a cyst of fluid is pushing the dip further down and compressing the spine –causing his partial paralysis and incontinence.
We were relieved to find out that there was a surgical option to help Irish! But it gets tricky: in an adult dog, the surgeon opens the cyst, relieves the pressure on the spine and movement returns. There is a lot of research and case data on these types of surgeries and the outcomes have the potential to be amazing. There is however, NO data on this procedure in puppies because there is no record of his condition showing up in a puppy, ever! We have virtually no information to help us anticipate the outcome of surgery or the potential of re-occurrence.
This leaves us with only two options:
1) We do nothing and he becomes fully paralyzed and incontinent; or
2) We attempt the surgery and hope for the best possible outcome. We don’t know if the fluid pushing on his spine has caused any permanent damage to his cord, but the neurologist is hopeful since the spinal canal before and after the dip in his back is fully formed and functional.
Irish will always have scoliosis, which is manageable, so we have decided to do the surgery and give him the best possible chance at a full life. Surgery is scheduled for January 7. We’re working with Irish to build some strength before his surgery and he’s taking some pre-surgery meds that will help him handle the hours of anesthesia necessary to perform the surgery. If he starts to decline or lose more movement before then, the surgery will be pushed up to the next soonest available date.
Spinal surgery is always risky, and more so on a puppy as small as Irish. But we’re sure that with all the love and support he’s getting, that Irish will be able to fight through it!
Irish’s medical costs and surgery are expected to run $3,200-$4,000 and include a two-day hospital stay and specialized neurologist team.
Thanks to our Heal-a-Bull program, we are able to offer these dogs the best possible chance by providing the medical care they need. If these dogs have touched your heart, please consider a donation to help with their care and follow us on social media for updates and more information.
We are not accepting applications for any of these dogs at this time. Until the status of their health is known and fully stabilized they will not be available for adoption or for an adoption waiting list.