Sadie -4-5 mo, 24lb, Mixed Breed -Female

Sadie is otherwise known as our “little miracle pup”. Sadie first came to Barkplace early this summer, after being found left in an apartment after her owners moved away. She was extremely thin, and at first thought, presumed to be due to lack of food once abandoned. Sadie was scooped up and taken to a foster home, where foster mom Kelly Garvin, a friend of BarkPlace, was more than happy to provide shelter, food, love and security for this ‘starving’ young pup. That day, Sadie weighed just 6lbs. She should have weighed closer to 15lbs.

Kelly called BarkPlace the very first morning after taking home Sadie, claiming that Sadie could not hold down any food. BarkPlace immediately responded and along with Kelly, took Sadie in for a veterinary exam. With nothing obvious standing out, and Sadie’s full-on willingness to eat (fueling the notion that she was just eating too fast now due to prior starvation), Sadie was transferred to another foster home, where her new caretaker, Jane Bernal, had more time to hand feed Sadie — smaller amounts, more frequently — throughout the day. While Jane did everything she could to try to help Sadie to keep her food down, she too struggled, as nothing worked.

Further veterinary examination led to X-rays, confirming the veterinarian’s suspicion of Megaesophagus — yet an even more rare version of it.

Megaesophagus itself is a generalized enlargement of the esophagus, which decreases or sometimes even eliminates motility. Esophageal motility is required for moving food and liquid down to the stomach.

What Sadie had was called Congenital Megaesophagus with a vascular ring anomaly. Vascular ring anomalies are congenital malformations of the vessels that entrap the thoracic esophagus and cause obstruction. The most commonly reported anomaly is persistent right aortic arch, of which Sadie presented.

Sadie’s diagnosis created quite the interest within the veterinary hospital where she was being examined. Her condition was rare, dangerous and unprecedented, yet the surgery was risky, unprecedented by a non-speciality vet, and expensive — with no guarantees.

There were only two choices: Surgery by a veterinary specialist costing in the range of $15,000.00 — or euthanasia.

This is where rescue becomes even more difficult — $15,000.00 to ‘maybe’ save one dog…versus savings of such amount for rescuing a lot more other dogs. And raising $15,000.00, much less, and expediently – is not an easy, or even possible, task. The answer was sadly a simple one for us, yet of course, fully understandable. Sadie was to be euthanized.

With one more ditch effort up her sleeve, our BarkPlace Angel Merry, approached Dr. Barker, at Copeland Veterinary Hospital in Cookville, TN and proposed him the ‘once in a lifetime chance’ to attempt to learn through performing this rare, invasive and delicate surgery, ever only normally attempted through specialty surgery.

With this proposed challenge, coupled with Dr. Barker’s veterinary medicine oath… to promote animal health and welfare, relieve animal suffering, protect the health of the public and environment, and advance comparative medical knowledge…Dr. Barker agreed to perform the surgery, with his medical team – at no cost.

It was a long day, waiting by the phone… and when the call came in, late in the afternoon that “everything went well and she made it!”…hearts started beating again, held breaths were released, and yes, lots of tears of disbelief began to flow. Against all odds, Sadie survived the surgery — it was successful — and she will now go on to lead a normal life! Perhaps there is a reason this vet is named Dr. ‘Barker’.

This is one of those moments when the world of rescue and the world of veterinary care come together, for the sole purpose of their missions, their ethics, their expertise and their compassion — to do whatever it takes to try to save a life. It is heartfelt. It is life altering. It is selfless.

Sadie is an incredibly sweet, gentle, social, compassionate, respectful girl. Whether it’s because she knows the lengths to which were gone to save her life, or because it’s just who she is…we will never really know. Sadie now weighs 24 lbs and she is still growing.

We are looking for a special home for her…and you can imagine just why that is…