(T-G Photo by Tracy Simmons) [Order this photo]
(T-G Photo by Tracy Simmons)
"She walks really funny," said animal care technician Karen Clark, explaining that she believes Katelyn has fractures to her pelvis which have never healed properly.
Her soft brown eyes and willingness to snuggle could more than make up for a hitch in her gait, but that's not what has made her adoption so difficult.
Katelyn suffers from Megaesophagus, a disease that appears in dogs, cats, ferrets and human counterparts.
In this condition, the muscles of the esophagus fail. Food and water doesn't get pushed to the stomach, and remain in the animal's chest cavity, never making it to the stomach.
Food is usually regurgitated, or worse, aspirated into the lungs. Dogs who suffer the disorder are often thin and malnourished.
The condition generally is incurable, but with patience and care from their owners, the dogs can live a healthy and active lifestyle. Owners frequently build and use a device called a Bailey Chair, which holds the animal in a vertical position while eating and for the twenty or thirty minutes it takes to allow gravity to do the work the esophagus cannot.
(Photo Courtesy Vetneuromuscularlab.ucsd.edu)
Wouldn't it be more humane for a dog in this condition to be euthanised? The question stung Clark, "Sometimes you just meet a dog that stands out, and you just know you have to help them. She wants to be in your lap and to be loved on. They tell me that she is in no pain. Megaesophogas is just something you have to learn to live with, but she can live many years with it. "
"Honestly, if I didn't know about Best Friends, it might be different."
Clark, along with friends in the local animal welfare community Alicia Holliman and Donna Clanton, made a vacation trip to the Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in Kanab, Utah earlier this year. The well-loved facility may be best-known for the National Geographic Channel series, "Dogtown" which ran for four seasons between 2008 and 2010.
There they built relationships with the staff and opened a line of communication on behalf of BCAC. The local shelter has been accepted as a member of the No More Homeless Pets Network, a public charity dedicated to saving the lives of homeless pets.
"Both Jewel and Katelyn needed help with socialization and the certified dog trainers and dedicated caregivers at Best Friends will be working to help these dogs be ready to be someone's four-footed family member," said Barbara Williamson, media relations manager.
"Once they're here, they receive everything they need, physically, emotionally and psychologically to thrive and to find good homes. For those few who are never ready to take that next step, Best Friends is their safe haven for life.
"When [Karen] first reached out to Best Friends for help, they had seven dogs they were having challenges finding homes for, but through their devoted efforts, they have been able to adopt out five of those dogs and Best Friends is taking two," said Williamson.
"Jewel is the type that when you come to the cage, she is very reserved, very scared of you, and not sure whether to let you touch her," Clark said. "She's totally different outside the cage -- but no one [considers] her because she's so shut down."
Clark confesses, she's always had a heart for the oddball, the unwanted, "She's just really special. I always felt sorry for her."
At Best Friends, Jewel will be teamed up with dogs of a similar temperament. "If no one ever adopts her, she will be there until she dies," said Clark.
Both dogs were accepted for adoption at the Best Friends facility, and volunteers now have until the end of the month to deliver Katelyn and Jewel to their new home.
Local volunteers have raised about half of the $900 they estimate they will need to make the 27-hour drive to Kanab and back.
Clark, Holliman and Clanton had already made plans to vacation in Kanab next September, and are looking forward to catching up with the two pups upon their return.
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