Megaesophagus may sound like something you’d find in a Godzilla movie, but there’s no science fiction about it. It’s a very real condition and one that affects a few animals every year.
It’s the inability of the esophagus to push food down into the stomach by peristalsis, a digestive process that many of us likely take for granted. In Grand Rapids, MI, a labrador retriever named Tink is living with megaesophagus, but she’s not taking it lying down.
Even since she was just 9 weeks old, Tink has been eating with the help of a ‘bailey chair,’ WGN reports. It’s a special high chair that positions her upright so gravity can assist with moving food into her stomach.
She eats four times a day and gets burped like a baby right after.
“For about five minutes we typically burp her, as crazy as that sounds,” Tink’s dad, Tom Sullivan, told WGN. “And then we do a throat massage where we get in deep to the esophagus and just try to help move the food down.”
Sadly, the life expectancy for animals with this condition is not long, but support can be found in a caring community of others who also love animals with megaesophagus.
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“What ends up 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 malnutrition,” says Jeremy Hutchinson, a doctor of veterinary medicine at Weisner Innis & Schoen.
With help from her compassionate humans, Tink has a much bright future ahead.
Watch this very special dog’s inspiring story below!
Matthew Russell is a West Michigan native and with a background in journalism, data analysis, cartography and design thinking. He likes to learn new things and solve old problems whenever possible, and enjoys bicycling, going to the dog park, spending time with his daughter, and coffee.
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