It's absolutely no secret that I have no shortage of love and compassion in my heart for furry lil' friends. Mike and I consider ourselves to be a "bulldog family" and we've always talked about expanding our clan to include more furballs. We hadn't made any plans to adopt any time soon as we just weren't sure if we were ready. Plus finding the perfect pup to add to an already full house takes time. We took Georgia with us when we met Pipkin, just to make sure they got along. We went back home and slept on it before making the final decision to say yes and welcome her into our lives. That was over a year ago and I can say without any hesitation that bringing another bulldog into our family was the best decision we've made. Georgia is always ecstatic to have a playmate, and the chemistry between the two is undeniable. It's smart to be wary of messing that up. But when a reader asked me on Tumblr yesterday if I knew of any shelters that had Frenchies, I never expected the outcome to be this. Another Tumblr friend left a comment to PetFinder, and I clicked out of sheer interest. A sweet little pup named Andy popped up from Tennessee and I went into love-sick mode. This little pup was part of the French Bulldog Rescue Network and I was amazed at this organization. Mike came home from a photo job and instantly let out an "Aww!". We were sold. We read his bio, learned that he was a "special needs" pup and we talked about it. We talked about adopting him and if we'd be a good match. We learned that these pups often have 150+ applications for forever homes. We decided to throw our name into the hat anyway. Just in case.
We knew that even if we didn't hear back, he'd go to a good home. He would find a forever family that could deal with his condition and give him unconditional love no matter what. If we weren't those people, we were totally fine with that. If we were those people, then that simply meant that maybe, just maybe, we were the perfect match for him. Believe me when I say a lot goes into adopting from the FBRN. It's on par with adopting a child in terms of the application, the questions, the home evaluation (yep!), etc. They also say it could take up to 8 weeks to hear anything back. Imagine my surprise when I had an email from Andy's foster mom today! Less than 24 hours after! His foster mom wanted to touch base with us and make sure we were aware of the severity of his condition, and everything it entailed. With that we decided to drive over to our vet and have a chat with him. To our relief he was very familiar with Andy's condition and he offered some really great insight into just how serious it is.
Andy has mega-esophagus, often referred to as mega-e. What this means is that his esophagus is enlarged, or partially collapsed, and it makes it much much harder for him to swallow/consume food. Andy is only 13 weeks old and he just happened to be born with the condition. He comes from a champion blood line, but something simply went wrong with him. The only way to treat Andy's condition is to feed him a raw diet with the consistency of "mush" and to hold him, like a small child, in your lap for the immediate 15 minutes following so gravity can help pull the food into his stomach. All sorts of things can go wrong, including getting pneumonia and even choking to death. I emailed his foster mom back with a million and one questions and she was sweet enough to call me so we could chat. We sat on the phone for a half hour and talked about everything under the sun. She assured me he was a perfectly normal pup with the exception of his eating. He's litter box trained (yep, a dog!), hyper, and really really fat (aw!).
She expressed her appreciation that we went as far as to even speak with our vet to make sure this is something we could handle as a family, and medically speaking. That's not to say he won't have major side effects from the mega-e in the future, but we have to finally weigh our decision on whether or not we feel equipped to handle his situation. Apparently we are the front runners, as she said if we feel like the right fit for Andy she didn't want to call anyone else. Of course we're welcome to say no, too, simply so he goes to the best family. We have a big decision to make. It's obvious that there is no shortage of love for this little pup, and I know G and Pip would love a little brother. We simply must decide if we're in the position to give Andy the attention he needs. We're lucky that we work from home and can monitor his feedings, but we also have to take into consideration the financial aspect for the future. His foster mom sent us 6 (!!!) wonderfully adorable videos of him today and our hearts are positively melting. He's such a doll and we hope that we can be his forever family. It would take a lot out of us, but we feel so incredibly drawn to him that it's almost impossible to say no.
We're trying to remain objective in the situation and make the best decision for everyone involved. Hard right? If we decide to push forward with the process then our application will be submitted by his foster mom to the board at FBRN and they will conduct a home-study/home-evaluation/inspection to make sure our home/family is suitable for Andy. There's a ton of hoops to jump through but it's a process with a wonderful payoff.
Do you have any special needs pets? Or ever had a dog with Mega-e? Any words of wisdom for our big decision?
PS; We know about the Bailey Chair and other items meant to help with the passage of food from the throat to the stomach. If we adopt Andy we will absolutely be looking into purchasing a Bailey chair or making our own!