From a certain angle, you would never know there is something different about these two girls.
To me, they could not be more special. As puppies, they set me on the path to puppy fostering.
Surrendered by a breeder, they both had a congenital abnormality called Megaesophagus. The esophagus – which connects the throat to the stomach – is enlarged and lacks the elasticity or motility required to move food and liquid down to the stomach. Unless gravity is employed, puppies vomit up their food and drink, lose weight, fail to thrive and often do not survive. They were fragile and adorable.
We named them Faith and Hope.
And after a brief time at the rescue, they came to stay with us. They were the first puppies that my Bella accepted.
All previous attempts at fostering failed quickly. But somehow, Bella knew that these puppies had a special need and she overlooked their foolish puppy ways and welcomed them home.
Hope was adopted by one of our volunteers with a heart for special needs dogs.
Faith stayed with me until a home could be found.
As a very young puppy, she was extremely active.
But I noticed that as she grew, she would often stop and refuse to move.
I carried her home on more than one occasion. I thought she was just being stubborn.
She was adopted by a lovely woman who had a special needs son herself. She was drawn to Faith for this reason. But Faith’s stopping continued creating a challenge that was more than the woman knew how to deal with.
By this point, my Bella’s own special needs were overwhelming. She was losing her battle with cancer.
So not long afer Faith was returned, she went to foster with her sister – now named Sophie – and her big brother, Jasper.
We all met up at puppy class,
and Cassandra and I looked at each other with alarm when – in the middle of play – both girls simply collapsed.
They said that it was normal for puppies to overdo – but we both knew it was more. It turns out that Faith and Sophie had another inherited concern: centronuclear myopathy or CNM. Muscle fibers do not grow normally. Dogs are unable to walk and exercise normally and are prone to collapse or locking up in heat or cold. It develops between six weeks and seven months; the result of poor breeding. What we were seeing was its progression.
So what did Cassandra do? She adopted them both!
Four years later, you can clearly see the muscle wasting from other angles,
but the dogs have thrived in their mom’s great care. I honestly don’t know where they would be without her.
They began their journey in Hello Kitty chairs
and now have grown up custom dog chairs that they back themselves into to eat and sit upright for an hour while gravity does its work.
Mom monitors their exercise in hot or cold – but mostly they all enjoy couch time and snuggles together. Homeward Bound ensures their medical care for life.
Once a year, when mom takes a much-needed and well-deserved break, the dogs come to stay with us. This week, I was on puppy duty anyway, so I gladly took on Faith and Sophie’s feedings as well. It is the very least I could do for a woman who opened her heart and home to these very special sisters.
Bella left us not long after Faith went to live with Cassandra. I reflect often on her unique acceptance of these two girls. I think she would be proud of the puppy-fostering legacy she began – with Jackson and Yogi giving others hope and faith that the will get the start in life they deserve.
P.S…my sincere thanks to the adoption team who managed to get Barley and Hops adopted today so I can leave on my trip to Yellowstone worry free!!