MEGAESOPHAGUS

In early December, through a Goldendoodle FB Group I met Kate Singleton…

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Meet Kate and Stetson

Kate is an active duty military spouse, a mother to 2, a doodle mom to three doods, AND a poodle! Our furrendship began through our own FB admiration society, “liking” and “commenting” back and forth about the quirky and adorable photographs of our doodles. I sent her a private FB message on December 5th after seeing a picture of Willie in what I surmised to be a “highchair”...

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Willie in his first pup chair that his Doodle Dad built (with Susan’s supervision!)

She called it a “Bailey Chair” and I needed to know more about it…

Kate called me that same day and we talked for quite a while. She told me that two of her “doods” live with Megaesophagus (or MegaE).

Meet Stetson…

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Look at that PAWdorable face

and Willie…

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Kate and Willie aka Buzz Lightyear

Willie and his Doodle Brother Bryce…

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Buzz / Willie and his Doodle Brother Bryce aka Woody!

I had never heard of MegaE, and I had never heard of the Bailey Chair. I wanted to help. I asked Kate if she would share her journey, tell how she met Susan and how she became an advocate along with others reaching out to other pet parents struggling for answers, solutions, and kindred spirits to bond with. I offered all that I had, a voice through The Boys website to bark out their selfless journey to help other dogs and their families with MegaE.  She agreed, so here in Kate’s own words is their story…

“I have two Goldendoodles with a condition called megaesophagus.

Megaesopgagus is a condition in which the muscles of the esophagus do not do their job correctly. In a normal esophagus, the muscles push anything that is ingested to the stomach. When a dog has MegaE, the muscles are damaged or did not properly form. They become like a latex balloon that has been blown up and had the air let out of it several times (soggy). Therefore, they create pockets along the esophagus that traps food and water. The muscles aren’t strong enough to push it down to the stomach. Because the food gets stuck in these pockets, it often causes a dog with MegaE to regurgitate nearly every time something is ingested. The regurgitation often leads to Aspiration Pneumonia, which if not caught and treated properly can cause death.

Some forms of MegaE can be treated with medication, some by elevating their bowls, some require feeding tubes, and some require special diets. Others utilize a combination of some or all of the above!

A great invention that has saved many MegaE dogs and allowed them to live a somewhat normal life, is the “Bailey Chair.” This is a special chair that was designed to allow the dog to eat and remain in a vertical position. This allows gravity to help pull the food to their stomachs since the muscles cannot. Some dogs remain in their Bailey Chair for up to 45 minutes after each feeding…

In my case, we have Stetson who is 3. He was only diagnosed in July, but has been fighting this since he was born. I spent many nights crying, holding and petting him not knowing what was wrong with my poor baby. We took him to three vets, none of which ever suggested megaesophagus. (Very few vets are informed about it and often suggest euthanasia.) We assumed it was a food allergy and changed his diet more times than I can count. As he grew older, the regurgitation seemed to be less and we noticed that as long as he laid down after eating, he was generally ok. We also limited his water intake.

Then came Willie. I received a phone call asking me if I wanted a dog with a condition called megaesophagus, if not he was going to be put to sleep. I had no idea what it was so I did some research and was referred to a lady named “Susan” who helps dogs with this condition. I talked to her and she pointed me in the direction of an amazing support group on FB. We heard about these Bailey Chairs. Susan, I found out, sells and donates custom Bailey Chairs. She has a business out of her home called Bailey Chairs 4 Dogs. For each chair that is purchased, one is donated. She helped us build Willie’s first chair by guiding us and sharing information we needed in order to do so…

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The building stages of Willies first Bailey Chair

I started selling hand made collars, leashes, bracelets and keychains in order to raise money to donate to this incredible organization at Paracord for Pets on FB. I have donated three specific chairs and sent random donations to put toward others.

Willie’s first Bailey Chair pretty much stopped all regurgitation and he has grown into a big, 7 month old doodle. Recently, he outgrew his chair and has been regurgitating nearly every time he eats or drinks. Susan kindly offered to donate Willie’s “big boy” chair. Willie’s chair arrived from California and now he can go back to being regurgitation free!…

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The Big Boy Chair!

Realizing how stressful it is having not one, but two dogs with this condition, it has become my focus to raise money and awareness for megaesophagus. I have become an active member of several FB groups that are dedicated to those who have experienced megaesophagus.

While advocating for dogs with megaesophagus and against bad breeders, I met Adrianne. Adrianne gave me great support in what I was doing. She also let me know about a rescue group that she works for that is dedicated to doodle dogs. I started following along, and even opened up a fundraiser with my Paracord for Pets to help support Doodle Rescue Collective, Inc. After learning that they are a non profit organization, and after learning all of their successes, I became more in tune with their ultimate goal, every doodle dog deserves a perfect family. I felt that I could add that to my mission.

Now as a Director of Development for Doodle Rescue Collective, Inc. and as an advocate for dogs with megaesophagus, I have continued to build my “Paracord Project” into what I hope will become a non profit business in the coming months.

Everything that I create is made by me personally, using high quality parachute cord that is made in the United States. I put a lot of thought and care into each order that I receive and expect my supporters to get the best possible product for their money. I make key chains, dog collars, leashes and bracelets, just to name a few.”

To learn more about MegaE or to help/support in any way possible – here are various links with tons of information.

www.baileychairs4dogs.com

www.facebook.com/paracordforpets

http://rehomingmegaesophagusdogs.com/

www.facebook.com/groups/4329632343 (Megaesophagus Support Group)

www.facebook.com/groups/uprightcaninebrigade

http://pets.webmd.com/dogs/dog-enlarged-esophagus-megaesophagus

http://www.caninemegaesophagus.org/

www.doodlerescue.org

Doodle hugs to Susan, Kate, and everyone out there making a difference.

To my new anipal Kate, your crew is very handsome…

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Willie (in the chair), Stetson, Kate and Dixie (non MegaE Doodle)

And to all our groovy readers out there – thank you for taking the time to read this post. I so wanted to share this story, feel free to do the same. The more we know the more we can help…

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The Boys wanted to show support so they ordered Paracord leashes from Kate. Can’t wait to see them.

Thanks for reading, much Doodle love to all…

20 Comments
  • Kate
    January 8, 2014

    Oh My Dog!!!!!!!!!! This is more perfect than I could have ever imagined it would be! Thank you so very much!

    • Cathy Bennett
      January 8, 2014

      You are so very welcome. Thank you for all that you continue to do for so many doods and their families. This was a joy to write Kate, it really was… God Bless you.

  • Adrianne Matzkin
    January 8, 2014

    I have only known Kate 5 months, never met in person although I hope we do soon, I quickly found that she is a force to be reckoned with! She has a huge heart which is so obvious in the love she shows her 2 young boys, her husband and her 3 doodles and poodle! She has never ending energy when it comes to them and her drive in supporting the MegaE society and Doodle Rescue Collective! Her passion has helped many families of dogs with MegaE and has helped saved many doodles from shelters and finding them foster homes!

    • Cathy Bennett
      January 8, 2014

      Hi Adrianne – Kate’s passion radiates through the phone, it is contagious. I am so happy to have found her through FB and other Goldendoodle sites and I was honored to write this post about her drive to help, MegaE and the support groups that are out there, and Susan’s huge heart with her contribution through the Bailey chairs. Take care, and thanks so much for reading. Plus her doods are PAWdorable!

  • emma
    January 8, 2014

    Wow, we have heard of that in humans, but not in dogs. What a clever invention and it really helps. That is awesome!

    • Cathy Bennett
      January 8, 2014

      Yo Emma – that’s exactly how I felt when I first saw the Bailey Chair. I was like WOW! It’s simply ingenious – thanks for stopping by AND the tunnel came, can’t wait to get downstairs and start having some cold weather fun!!!

  • Carol
    January 8, 2014

    We are Goldendoodle parents but before, we had a Rottweiler that developed MegaE when he was about 4 years old. Our vet diagnosed it but never could tell us how to help our boy. We tried elevating his bowls and that helped a little. It took a little over a year but he got worse and worse and we finally had to put him down. I so wish we had known how to help him live a full and more normal life. I applaud you all for supporting your megaE dogs and getting the message out about megaE!!!

    • Cathy Bennett
      January 8, 2014

      Carol you more so than others know the importance for advocacy and spokespersons to get more exposure concerning MegaE. I am sorry to hear about your Rot. That had to be an extremely difficult and gut wrenching decision. Kate, Susan and from what I’m learning dozens of others are doing their best to let other MegaE pet parents know they are not alone. I was happy to help. Thanks so much for reading AND sharing. Take care and do send me a pic of your doodle, would love to see him (or her!).

    • Kate
      January 9, 2014

      Carol,
      I know part of your feeling all too well. Stetson lived with megaE for 3 years without a diagnosis. I cannot even begin to tell you how many nights I sat up crying, not knowing what was wrong with my dog. (would this ever stop? would it kill him? why can’t he eat or drink? he’s not getting what he needs! why is this happening to my sweet boy? will he live to see another day? can it get worse?) are just a few things that ran through my head. I thank God that Willie came to me in need and was able to answer all of those questions. This is exactly why I want people to know about this awful condition- so that there aren’t more like you and (the old) me who have to worry and suffer. I want people to know that there is help for these sweet babies- doodles or not!!! Thank you for reading!

  • Robin
    January 8, 2014

    Thank you for writing this, Cathy. There are some truly amazing people in this world, and Kate is one of them!

    • Cathy Bennett
      January 8, 2014

      You are welcome Robin, but the pleasure was all mine. Kate is truly remarkable and I was honored to tell her story. Thanks for reading!

  • Cathy Ruggiero
    January 8, 2014

    My Chocolate Lab-Bailey-was diagnosed with this at 9 weeks of age- I was able to take her to work and was able to feed her several times a day and held it up so she reached up for it, special feed , no dry food- several yrs later she could eat anything always elevated- she passed at 11 yrs from nerve sheath tumors

    • Cathy Bennett
      January 8, 2014

      In doing my research for this blog post, I had no idea just how many dogs are affected with this condition. It was astonishing and frightening. I can only imagine Cathy how difficult this must have been for you as you pioneered your way through. God bless you for taking such great care of Bailey for 11 years. Thanks so much for reading and do stop back by often!

    • Kate
      January 9, 2014

      Cathy,
      I am sorry to hear that your girl passed away. I am on the other hand very glad that you were able to give her a prolonged life and didn’t give up on her!!! Thank you so much!

    • Yvonne Smith
      January 9, 2014

      This breaks my heart !

  • Yvonne Smith
    January 9, 2014

    Enjoyed this story!

  • Kathryn Durno
    January 11, 2014

    Wow…I have never heard of this before. Thank you so much for sharing her story and spreading the word.

    • Cathy Bennett
      January 11, 2014

      You’re welcome Kathryn! I too was totally in the dark about this until I met Kate through FB. I really wanted to share her story and hopefully fuel additional energy towards more people sharing, so please “share”
      Thanks so much for reading!

  • Zsara Hamlin
    January 11, 2014

    The more we educate the public about ME the more likely monies can be raised to research ME and possibly find a cure. My dog Blade, a pittbull boxer mix was diagnosed at 11 years old. His home made Bailey’s chair helped us to share four additional months with him to love him up before he passed.
    I too met Kate on FACEBOOK after seeing her Doodles. She is a wonderful woman working for some great causes. god Bless her. And thank you for writing such an informative acticle. We must continue to spread the word about ME!

    • Cathy Bennett
      January 11, 2014

      Hello Zsara, I am so sorry to hear about Blade. I too believe this is so worthy of as much attention as possible, so it was my honor to write the story about Kate, Stetson and Willie. Kate is remarkable and I look forward to working with her in the future. Happy to assist. Thanks so much for reading.

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