Berkeley Humane adores every fuzzy, wiggly litter of puppies that come to their rescue shelter. Their energy and adorableness excite everyone from staff to volunteers. Most of the time the pups just need some TLC until they are big enough to be adopted. However, they are vigilant to identify illnesses common to shelter puppies, such as the fatal parvovirus or the incurable distemper.
In February 2020 when they welcomed a bouncing litter of four 8-weeks-old Husky mix puppies, they took the same precautions. Each puppy was vaccinated, spayed or neutered, and observed for signs of illness. All acted like normal puppies, except for one. Iggy was visibly smaller than his siblings, and the canine team noticed some peculiarities: Iggy would get sick after eating just a few bites. He did not have the same energy as his siblings and tired quickly. He seemed wobbly and could not stand for long periods of time. As he grew, he developed a hunched back and his front legs looked deformed.
What was going on with Iggy?
Because of donations to the Hope Medical Fund, Berkeley Humane had the resources to run as many tests as needed to solve this mystery. First, Iggy had to be quarantined. He hated being alone and cried out for his siblings, but it was necessary for their protection. Iggy tested positive for Bordetella and was put on antibiotics for several weeks. Next, they consulted with a neurologist who suspected Iggy was suffering from Myasthenia Graves, a malfunction of signals between the nerves and muscles. He was prescribed an expensive medication. Fortunately, he responded well to it and became more energetic! He even started to run and play with the staff.
Radiographs confirmed that Iggy also had a large, distended esophagus preventing him from eating normally. This is consistent with Megaesophagus, a disease often associated with Myasthenia Graves. Surprisingly, the simplest solution for this condition was to carry him in a baby carrier for 20 minutes after each meal! Iggy loved all the attention. As he got older, the canine care team trained Iggy to sit in a specially built ‘Bailey Chair’. There is no cure for Megaesophagus—Iggy will have to be fed sitting upright and remain in that posture for at least 20 minutes after each meal for the rest of his life.
With his big moon eyes shining through beautiful black fur and his tiny, grey speckled mitten-like paws, Iggy was enchanting from day one. He radiated love and gave everyone licks. Berkeley Humane was so happy that it was possible for them to quickly discover his medical issues and save his life. His first months of life may have been uncertain, but they are confident now that Iggy will have the full and happy life he deserves. Iggy was adopted by his new family in April 2020 (Read his adoption update!).
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