Tink is a Silver Labrador Retriever, who was born with a unique medical condition. She suffers from Congenital Idiopathic Megaesophagus, which is a fancy way of saying that the muscles in her esophagus are not properly connected to her brain.
Because Tink can't control the muscles, she can't swallow her food easily. She was 9 weeks old when they realized what was going on with her, thinking that she was just throwing up after she ate. Tom Sullivan, Tink's owner, brought her to the vet to see what was going on.
“My uncle is a veterinarian and he said it’s not a very good prognosis. So there were a couple of days of a lot of emotions, a lot of trying to figure out what we were going to do, but there was no way that my wife was giving her up."
They decided to do everything in their power to make sure Tink would get the best care, no matter what the cost. Twice a day Tink has to take medication that costs her owners roughly $100 per month. But that's not all they have to do to keep food in her tummy...
Because her esophagus won't naturally swallow, they have to use gravity to help her food stay down. They had to find a way to get her head up higher than her body, so they built her a very special chair. She has a custom built chair that is called a "Bailey Chair" where she can sit to eat and drink her food. It looks a lot like a baby's high chair, and keeps her body vertical while she digests. They do have to burp her to get the access air out, but it helps her keep the food down.
“She loves it because she knows she gets to eat. If the chair’s open and she thinks it’s time to eat, she’ll go climb in and stand in it until we come close it and [then] she’ll sit down,” Sullivan said.
Even though the vet suggested that they put her down, they say they are “so glad [they] didn’t listen,” writes Sullivan. “Our vet now loves working with Tink and seeing her success. At 9 weeks she was 5 lbs. and looked frail and fragile, and was losing fur everywhere. It was a very slow and steady climb, but she’s now [1 year and 4 months old] and 50 lbs. She has always had tons of energy and loves playing and loving on people. It’s been a ton of work, but that dedication is what’s kept her in the right track.”
“She will continue to eat out of her Bailey Chair for the remainder of her life, which we hope is as long and normal as possible for a Lab,” Sullivan says. “She loves to cuddle, swim, play fetch, run, jump, and play just as much as any other dog out there. She’s 100 percent normal in every other way except for the way she eats. We could not picture life without her and we couldn’t be happier to have chosen her from the litter. People often ask if we rescued her, and our reply is that we rescued her without knowing it.”