11 January

ME Journal: On The Roller Coaster With Gus 1/11/18

by Jon Katz
On The Roller Coaster With Gus

January 11, 2018. I think I’ll do this in journal farm, this blog is a Farm Journal, after all.

Gus woke up feisty and active this morning, he was jumping around like a monkey hopping on and off the sofa top, trying to lure me into some tug of war with his teddy bear.  He did not appear to be an unhealthy dog in any way.

I tried some new things today.I rolled his food into tiny pieces, and waited a few seconds before feeding him anothe piece. I put a few drops of olive oil on them to lubricate them. He was active, alert, playful. Maria and I were both hopeful today, I even did some visualizations with him.

I am glad we are going to see Dr. Fariello this morning, I am concerned about Gus’s weight, his ribs are beginning to show and I am concerned we will find out he is losing weight.

I talked with two ME specialists yesterday and they said feeding him the food as he stood upright and holding up upright for nearly 30 minutes after eat was precisely the right treatment, they both said it was the same idea as a custom-made chair, they said the high benches we ordered would serve the same outcome.

They should be here shortly.

I find with any animal illness I write about,  I am invariably offered great support and also intense criticism from people who believe they have the answers for me, and my animals. Sometimes, it seems that everyone in America believes they have a direct pipeline to God, and everyone else the devil. I love the words “I don’t know,” they keep my feet on the ground.

Someone messaged me this morning asking if I would regret it if I didn’t get a Bailey Chair and Gus died. I am used to questions like that.

I answered as truthfully as I could. The answer was no, there are a dozen or more things people use to treat megaesophagus, not just one and Maria and I (and our vet) and some internists all believe we are doing the best we can for Gus right now. He is eating with his head up, and is upright for long stretches after eating.

Like most of you, we do the best we can for as long as we can, and speaking only for myself, I do not look back on my decisions, I make them in good faith, and if they don’t work, I move forward into life. My life will never again be one of regrets, I’ve done that.

We are not there yet, but sharing this part of the experience is important, because I want to encourage openness and trust, and I am in debt to the hundreds of people offering us and Gus their good wishes.

Social media works both ways, the good and the bad. It’s important not to forget that. It’s also important to stay steady and focused, and above all, to keep perspective. This is about the dog.  I will not permit Gus to suffer in any serious way for any prolonged period that is my faith to him.

Sometimes, I am learning, the esophagus simply will not function, no matter what position the dog is in, both internists told me, and only an X-ray can determine if the condition is getting better or worse. If the dog is losing weight, or suffering from malnutrition, the good options for us narrow. Some people choose to keep the dog going by any means possible for as long as they can. I understand that, but I doubt I would follow that path. It’s not time to make that decision.

The gastroentric food is the best food for him, and a few drops of olive oil were a good thing to try.

One of the doctors suggested crating Gus for an hour or so after meals, she thought his being active could be upsetting to him right after eating.

After we finished breakfast this morning, Maria had to go out and I sat down to write. Gus same in to visit and regurgitated on my knee, and after that was cleaned up, once again on the floor.  He looked both frightened and uncomfortable at that moment, and I’m sure he did not feel well.

I’m crating him until we get to the vet around noon. Usually, he vomits four or five times if there’s a problem. Since I put him in the crate he has been quiet and seems to be settling. This is not about trying one thing, but many things.

If we are lucky, we will find something that works for him. This is all pretty new, and there are no straight or easy lines.

I ought to say this is wearing on us, but it is not unbearable and we are handling it fairly easily. We are relieved the very brutal cold wave is ending, that made things harder. I see that Maria is very worried about Gus, she is an extraordinarily sensitive human being, and I would be shocked if this wasn’t upsetting for her, or for me.

I am neither hopeful nor despairing about Gus, and I’m looking forward to today’s meeting around noon with Dr. Fariello. Fingers crossed, and thanks for coming along. I promised good and bad when I started the blog, this has elements of both.


  1. Best of luck with Gus. He seems like a charming little fellow. This sounds very difficult to sort out but I think you will get there. . I appreciate your willingness to post about these things though. It is both interesting and educational.

  2. It is particularly hard for you in that you were rejoicing over your new little dog and having such fun with him, then suddenly this… It just seems so unfair but I know it is pointless to think that way. There are so many things in life that we are just not meant to understand, that we just have to accept. But I am hoping with all my heart that Gus will pull through and have a long life with his loving family.

  3. I hope the visit to the vet provides some useful information. You and Maria are doing a great job of listening, researching, and responding in the most appropriate ways you can, always willing to be flexible and try something different. I understand how emotionally trying this must be for you. I have never experienced this illness, but I have had cats with constant vomiting issues, and it is emotionally wearing—trying many different approaches. It seems like people who keep making unkind remarks regarding your decision to not use a bailey chair, haven’t read your many informative and descriptive posts about why you aren’t using it now, that you are basically accomplishing the same thing with the techniques you are implementing, all with your veterinarian’s nod of approval. Anyway, I hope that the little guy can begin a path to recovery or at least stability. You and Maria are doing a great job!

  4. I’m pulling for this handsome boy and hoping that you can identify a feeding and digesting protocol that will work for him and for you. This picture captures his sweet spirit.

  5. It’s interesting to me that people would respond critically to your not using a mechanical device to feed Gus. How much better it seems to be held by your two favorite humans, interacted with, and loved through the process. i haven’t got a dog, and have never dealt with Megaesophagus. But it seems to me the two of you are doing a splendid job. Gus is such a sweet, lively presence. I will send my best thoughts his way, and to the two of you. –Kim

  6. Having an ill dog is trying for everyone involved. I admire your determination to find what works for you and I am hopeful you will get Gus thru this. It is especially heartbreaking with such a young animal, and it if does not go well, I hope you will not close off your heart to having another. Good luck to you and Maria both, and to Gus. My sympathies are with you for this painful time.

  7. You are doing your homework, Jon, doing your best for Gus & the family. Any illness has a winging out of concerns for all who love you. Best wishes to you, Gus and Maria. I love seeing your pictures and learning about things that I’d never considered. I’m sorry you & Gus are having to go thru this unsettling time. Give him a hug for me. Izzy & I are rooting for his continued path to wellness. Bev

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