Michigan dog with rare condition eats every meal in special high - Toledo News Now, News, Weather, Sports, Toledo, OH

Michigan dog with rare condition eats every meal in special high chair

Source: CNN Source: CNN
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A Grand Rapids, Michigan dog has a special condition that requires her to get extra special treatment at the dinner table.

While we're used to babies eating dinner in high chairs, but you have to admit, seeing a dog in one is quite the sight.

"She's a Labrador retriever. She fetches things in the water. She plays Frisbee. She goes on walks. She licks people to death. She cuddles. She does everything,” said Tom Sullivan, Tink’s dad.

Tink has been eating out of a bailey chair since she was 9-weeks-old.

It's basically a high chair for a dog.

"When she was nine weeks old my brother had watched her. And she came home and one side of her stomach was flat and the other one was distended. And that's when the emergency vet had told us maybe this is megaesophagus,” said Cori Sullivan, Tink’s mom.

Megaesophagus means when Tink eats, the food and water never makes it all the way to the stomach.

"The esophagus how it works is it kind of squeezes the food and water down in a wave like motion we call that peristalsis and because she can't do that, when she eats or drinks the food just stays in the esophagus,” said Dr. Jeremy Hutchinson, with Weisner Innis & Schoen.

Then the food sits there.

"Her body will reject it. She'll regurgitate it. It's like a burp up and it just comes up,” Tom Sullivan said.

So, the chair keeps Tink in an upright position and gravity does the work her esophagus can't.

"If she's in an upright position anything in the esophagus is going to move downward,” Hutchinson said.

Tink eats four times a day and after mealtime, just like a baby, it's burping time.

"After she sits in her chair this is a normal thing for about five minutes we typically burp her as crazy as that sounds and then we do a throat massage where we get in deep to the esophagus and just try to help move the food down,” Tom Sullivan said.

Like a baby, it's a lot of work.

It takes a lot of patience, and most, just don't have the time.

"What ends happening is the animal might be euthanized because the owners can't handle or can't dedicate the time and effort it takes or they suffer from,” Hutchinson said.

Sadly, the survival rate is low. However, thanks to the Sullivans, Tink has a second chance at life.

"Not knowing if we could care for her or even not knowing if we were going to euthanize. I cried for at least four days straight trying to figure out what was going to happen and how much money we were going to put into her, but every penny has been worth it. I wouldn't change it for the world,” Cori Sullivan said.

The Sullivans said online support groups and tips they get from other owners of dogs with megaesophagus have been the key to help them give Tink a second chance.

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