Puppy’s special chair saves his life from congenital condition

Posted at 12:27 AM, Sep 02, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-02 00:27:10-04

Elijah, or “Eli,” a pup in Idaho, was suffering from severe malnourishment, but thanks to some creative doctors, he’s now living a life fit for a king.

Complete with a throne.


“His litter was brought in when he was 5 days old,” said Savannah Amberson, a veterinary technician at Ada Animal Hospital in Boise.

Eli, a German Shepherd, was “was half the size of size of his litter,” Amberson said.

Baby Eli couldn’t keep food down and his breeders couldn’t take care of him, so Eli was adopted by the clinic.


X-rays revealed Eli’s esophagus was malfunctioning because of a “vascular ring anomaly.”

“The first part of the esophagus became distended, and developed into what we refer to as a megaesophagus,” said Dr. Wayne Loertscher, veterinarian and owner of the clinic.

According to Loertscher, that means the esophagus becomes enlarged and relatively useless. Instead of acting as a muscle, it was getting in the way.

“It was just not doing it’s job,” he said. Eli couldn’t digest food.

Eli went through three surgeries with little to no improvement.

“We had to put him on a feeding tube,” Amberson said, “It was a last-ditch effort.”

But it bought them some time.

Time to develop Eli’s special chair, based on a concept called the Bailey Chair.

The office manager’s brother built the chair, “adapted for Eli’s size,” of course.

The chair allows Eli to remain in a vertical position, relieving the esophagus of doing so much work to get food into his stomach.

“Gravity pulls the food to the stomach,” Amberson explained.

Since then, Eli has made a 180 recovery, gaining over a third of his body weight — 30 pounds — in just three weeks. He eats anywhere from five to seven times per day, taking around 15 minutes to allow for digestion.

Eli wasn’t a fan of the chair at first.

“He cried and howled, he was not excited,” Amberson said.

But he has since gotten used it. “Sometimes he even falls asleep in the chair,” Loertscher said.


Eli will have to eat soft food forever. But thanks to Amberson and Loertscher, Eli is expected to live a pretty normal live.

“Out of all the people who have been a part of this story,” Loertscher said, “Savannah is the biggest hero. She has driven this and has refused to give up.”

See what happens when you give people, er, puppies a chance?

Vet tech Savannah Amberson adopted Eli.

Vet tech Savannah Amberson adopted Eli.


“I have no intentions of getting rid of him,” Amberson said, “he’s gonna be my pup forever.”

This story was originally reported by CNN affiliate KBOI.