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In shelter Dog

Tacoma, WA, 98448
Pet name:
Australian Cattle Dog / Blue Heeler
Gray / Blue / Silver
Coat length:
Several months ago, Penelope was surrendered to us due to her owner not being able to provide for her. We were very concerned about Penelope, who was unable to keep food down and would not drink any water. We got her into a vet immediately who described Penelope’s condition as very critical. She was weak, severely dehydrated, had a very bad skin infection with swollen skin and missing hair--and was overall in poor health at the age of six years old. Upon acquiring her previous vet records, we found that she had a history of vomiting since puppyhood.
After many months of a loving foster home and lots of medical care, Penelope is doing much better and we have also found the root of Penelope’s main health condition. In addition, good food, baths, and medication have helped her to have a new and healthy beautiful coat. The transformation has been incredible. 
In a nutshell, here is the best way to explain:  When dogs are born, they are born with two aortic arches; as they get older one of those arches is supposed to disintegrate.  In Penelope’s case, that did not happen; therefore, a vascular anomaly was formed around her esophagus which is causing a stricture. This stricture has made it more difficult for food (especially kibble) to pass through freely. After seeing a specialist, we were referred to a surgeon for consult to find out if surgery would be Penelope’s best option. 
The surgeon told us that she sees this condition in puppies at about six weeks old and with surgery (as a puppy), the success rate is around 95%.  The surgeon said she has never performed surgery of this kind on a dog Penelope’s age, which is six years old. It is unknown if the surgery would be successful or not. She said that Penelope has probably developed a lot of scar tissue around the site, making it more unclear if the esophagus will open up once the band is cut.  Penelope is at risk for aspiration pneumonia without the surgery, but is also at risk for aspiration pneumonia post op, as well.  This is a very invasive surgery, and we do not know if it will help Penelope.  The surgeon said that the upper part of her esophagus is moderately dilated and that there are no signs of mineralization of food--so food is passing through the stricture and not just sitting there for long periods of time.
Penelope’s foster mom has been giving Penelope the upmost quality care that we could ever ask for. She has found that by feeding Penelope canned food, small amounts more frequently throughout the day instead of two large meals, has eliminated the vomiting! And as for drinking water, we wonder if Penelope had developed fear of drinking water because she knew it would bring forth more vomiting--but she absolutely refused to drink water. Her foster mom started giving her small amounts of water at a time from a syringe, encouraging Penelope to drink and swallow the water. A caring family member ordered Penelope a special water bowl, as well, that is elevated and can be adjusted at different levels and angles, which they are trying to teach Penelope to use.
We found in Penelope’s vet records that she had these issues as a very young puppy—at an age where the surgery would have had a high probability of success with a lower risk of any complications. But at six years old, we are apprehensive about putting Penelope through this. Since she has made it six years without aspiration pneumonia, despite not being properly diagnosed or cared for, we have decided against surgery and continuing to provide her a quality life. Yes, the surgery would be very expensive, but we are not making the decision based on money. We truly want what is best for Penelope.

We want to find Penelope the PERFECT HOME where someone is willing to continue giving Penelope the extra TLC she needs. As her foster mom puts it, Penelope does require some special care, but she is worth it. She loves to cuddle, loves attention and belly rubs, enjoys car rides, and has a super sweet personality. She is now strong enough to enjoy daily walks—and is great on a leash! Penelope is good with other dogs. Keep in mind that her Heeler herding trait will sometimes come out, and she will gently nip at other dogs while playing or at people’s heels. There are two children in the foster home, and she is great with them—and they love her! So, school aged children would be best when considering kids, as well as calm or older dogs. Penelope gets along great with the dog in her foster home.

If you are interested in adopting Penelope, please copy/paste this link into your internet browser to submit an application: