A Story with Heart

In the spring of 2018, a litter of seven puppies came into my former shelter from an unwanted litter. Six were quickly adopted, but one was having some health issues and we learned this little puppy, named Heart was suffering from a condition called Megaesophagus (ME).

Megaesophagus is not a single disease. Instead it is considered a combination disorder in which the esophagus (the tube that carries food and liquid between the mouth and stomach) dilates and loses motility (its ability to move food into the stomach). When esophageal motility is decreased or absent, food and liquid accumulate in the esophagus. With special care, these dogs can still live a full and happy life depending on the specifics of their conditions. Surgery is even sometimes an option, however, Heart was not a candidate for surgery. To meet the level of care needed for Heart, we needed a special foster. A long time foster, Shari stepped up without hesitation to give this sweet dog a chance. Shari connected with the Upright Canine Brigade, a nonprofit whose sole purpose is to educate people about ME, and support people caring for dogs who have been diagnosed with this disorder. This wonderful organization even helped us to get a special chair (Bailey Chair) for feeding dogs with this disorder. Eventually Shari adopted Heart and told her story to others helping to educate people about ME and how it doesn’t have to be a death sentence for these special dogs. Ever vigilant, Shari spent a great deal of time and money ensuring that Heart received the best care and enjoyed a great quality of life.

Recently, Heart crossed the rainbow bridge due to complications from ME. Her mom is of course devastated, but she recently told me that she would do it all again. In Heart’s short life, she knew, compassion and love. Her story has helped others suffering from this condition and raised awareness. Years ago, a dog suffering from me that came into a shelter would have most likely have been euthanized. Because of special people like Shari, more animals are being given a chance. This sweet little dog and her mom’s story will always stick with me as a reminder of how love can change the world. Heart’s legacy will be a testament of compassion, the special place animals can hold in our lives and her story will hopefully help other dogs and their families. Since her passing, many people have made donations to the Upright Canine Brigade in memory of her to help other dogs battling ME. If you would like to learn more about ME, or how you can help, go to www.caninemegaesophagusinfo.com/upright-canine-brigade.

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