Custom-Made High Chair Helps Dog Cope With Rare Digestive Disorder
by Laura Cross
Published on October 17, 2012
Unlike most canines, when Starship the Australian Cattle Dog/Shepherd mix puppy eats a meal, she isn’t required to munch her kibble from a bowl on the floor. No, this lovable pup, who recently found a forever home after being cared for by Greenville County Animal Care in South Carolina, enjoys her food while seated in a special high chair built just for her.
Starship eats in a high chair because she suffers from megaesophagus, a rare disorder in which the esophagus is enlarged, making proper digestion very difficult. If Starship eats, drinks water or has a treat without sitting upright, she will immediately regurgitate the food, reported ABC News.
A Diagnosis — and a Solution
Starship’s foster mother, Jennifer Henderson, knew something was wrong with the pup because she was not eating or growing like a normal puppy. After a few tests, a vet at the shelter diagnosed Starship with the disorder and though she was small and weak, the staff at the shelter saw her fighting spirit and knew she could beat the disease.
The young pup eats four to five small meals a day from her high chair (also known as a bailey chair), which was built by the husband of a vet at the shelter.
“My husband has a remodeling company so he whipped it together really quickly. He’s a huge animal lover himself,” veterinarian Dr. Teri Worl told ABC News.
Starship didn’t even require special training to use the chair. “She took to the chair right away,” Susan Bufano, community relations coordinator for the shelter, told Vetstreet.
She’s Just Like a Normal Puppy
Unfortunately, Starship’s growth was stunted by her condition, and her teeth never grew in since she was not able to get nutrients from her food until she got her chair. And although she has some other health problems, she behaves and plays just like any other dog.
“She’s just like a normal puppy. Sweet and playful, she likes other dogs, people, and is good with cats. She’s just a normal puppy, but has to eat a different way,” adoption counselor Kayla Sield told ABC News.
The best news of all for Starship is that her 15 minutes of fame (even though there was some confusion about her gender) on ABC has helped her find a forever home. According to the shelter, her new owner has plenty of experience with special needs dogs and is very excited for her new furry family member. We wish Starship and her new family all the best.