Our Story and Our Mission
It's an amazing thing Social Media. It can connect total strangers and have them bond in ways never before possible. Let me tell you how amazing this is.
My name is Susan and I have a Service dog named Gigi. I am a 3x Cancer survivor and am now battling cancer once again!! But, that is not the amazing part.
I have an Instagram account (@susan_and_gigi) where I share my life and travels with Gigi. I follow a lady named Chrissy (@paintedrockbullys and @gremlinsplace). Chrissy had seen a bed on my feed that my husband had built for Gigi. Chrissy jokingly asked if my husband could build her dog Gremlin, a chair. What?? A chair?? Why would a dog need a chair you might ask....Well so did I! Chrissy explained to me that Gremlin had Megaesophagus and his esophagus no longer worked and he had to eat in an upright begging position to allow gravity to move food to his stomach.
Well, after seeing Gremlin and his YouTube video ( search "Gremlins Bailey Chair") I fell in love and my husband built that gorgeous dog a chair. Chrissy invited me to join the Facebook Megaesophagus support groups. I was so impressed and humbled by the love and constant care that the owners of these dogs provide. The financial aspect of this condition is daunting and the need for the Bailey Chairs is essential to the survival of these dogs. We then began making Bailey chairs for whoever needed them. We invested some of our personal funds to buy tools and material and started a donation site
We are not a business. We build these chairs out of our garage on my husbands spare time. We build them at cost for those who can afford them and try to raise money to give them away free for those who cannot. My goal is to hopefully be able to give them away free to every dog owner who needs them until that time we will continue to build and donate as many as possible.
I have gotten so much support from my Instagram followers and Facebook friends since we started this that I am truly amazed at the compassion and love total strangers show for one another.
The love of your fellow human being and our canine companions is truly a joy to see in todays world. It gives me hope....
Chrissy & Gremlin's Story
I once read that the true definition of a friend is one who comes in when the whole world has gone out. Gremlin is that friend to me - in fact he is my best friend. He has walked beside me through some of the darkest parts of my life and while Ive oftentimes been credited with saving his life, in truth - he saved mine. This has been a very difficult story for me to share as it takes me back to some very painful memories however it is our story & its an important one to share - albeit long...
My husband and I have been married for going on 10 years now & after our 3rd year of marriage we were diagnosed with "infertility" he had been poisoned in a work accident and while we haven't been able to conclusively prove that to be the sole reason for our issues - it is assumed by most professionals to be the likely cause - as such no treatments are available and we were told quite literally that we had a 1 in a TRILLION chance at conception. Although it was a big blow, we accepted it to be fact and moved on with our lives. We discussed adoption but never pursued it... And then one day a little 11 year old girl was quite literally dropped off on our doorstep with a dark past and nowhere to go we took her in as our own and I am very proud to say that our now 19 year old daughter is an amazing success story of resilience and achievement. 2 years later we were babysitting for a foster parent relative and we met the two little boys who stole our hearts. We put our first petition to adopt in November of 2006 and finally after 6.5 years of hard fighting our adoption was finalized.
In April of 2011 not long before the adoption with our boys was really starting to move forward - the unthinkable happened - I got pregnant! All of my dreams were coming true. The stress of the adoption was coming to an end, and my family would soon have everything we ever wanted... Or so I thought. Because there was no way that "God" would allow me to get pregnant after 8 years and then take it away...right? Wrong... Our baby died on May 9, 2011. One day after Mother's Day. I was devastated to say the least. Inconsolable. I refused to get out of bed - to my everlasting shame I sent my kids away to be with family because I couldn't even look after them. I was a complete wreck and nearly impossible to be around. And then my uncle (who is more like my dad) stepped in with a litter of 11- 4 week old puppies for me to look after - knowing I couldn't refuse (we were in business together breeding dogs and truth be told my weakness is puppies) I started to get out of bed again. My life had simple purpose - I didn't have to listen to people talk or laugh or anything. I rarely had to leave my house - I just had to look after the puppies - I even named them. My kids came home and helped me with them too. The name theme was cars and from "a" to "k" I had one for every letter (Enter Gremlin) One week after I got them though, fate jumped in with another challenge and one after another the puppies got sick. Really sick with coughs. I was able to get medication for, nurse back to health and rehome 9 of the 11 but 2 remained - very very ill. Our little Audi Girl, and the runt - Gremlin. I swore to myself that I wasn't going to let anything happen to these babies like (in my mind) I let happen to my baby.. (False logic I know but I was grieving hard) I syringe fed, medicated and hydrated them on the half hour. When they got worse I drove 2 hours to the only vet I trusted at the time and put them on IV fluids - but no matter how we tried Audi died and although its completely different losing her felt like I was losing our Lyrick (that's what we named our baby) all over again. I failed her. I had used every ounce of my energy trying to save her and once again my prayers went unanswered and I felt defeated & shattered - but there was still Gremlin so I couldn't completely fall apart and while I nursed him back to health - slept with him on my chest every single night so I could monitor his breathing and syringe fed him - he brought me back again too. Things were up and down but I was getting better. I still avoided places where there were likely to be babies but I started to enjoy my family again and of course (although I told myself I wouldn't) gremlin became a permanent member of our family. And then he got sick again - but this time he was "throwing up" (regurging) constantly - and rapidly losing weight. After many vet visits that left more questions than answers I packed him up and made that 2 hour drive again where he was immediately diagnosed with K9 megaesophagus and history was written - because my "baby" Gremlin (who parts of me think was either sent to me by or is a part of the baby we lost) now needed everything that I needed to be. He needed to be babied completely, fed in a high chair, slept with to monitor breathing and constantly cleaned up after. We almost lost grem numerous times but there was no way I could give up on him. I was told over and over by everyone to let him go - put him out of his misery. Strangers would stop me and comment on how sick he was and how awful I must be to let him get so skinny. (He was 24 pounds when he should be 50 - he had zero muscle mass in his back legs and would drag his back feet) but he was by my side through everything quite literally and we needed eachother I could not let him go. So we pushed on together. Through pneumonia and infections and weight loss and malnutrition When I found the megaesophagus group on Facebook I started to get hints on how to look after grem and he started to improve drastically. He had a fairly uncomfortable but manageable chair that was helping him keep down his food and things kept getting better. Then I went on Instagram and I found on there the most adorable boxer named Gigi who I thought must have the most incredible parents because her bed is nicer than mine. As a joke I mentioned how much my Gremlin would love to have a "pimped out" chair like Gigi's bed and to my astonishment Susan and her husband agreed to make it for him - at cost of material!!! Not only is Gremlins chair much nicer to look at - the extra padding makes it more comfortable and he is able to sit for longer in it. He actually loves it. He puts himself in it just to have naps sometimes when it isn't even mealtime and his weight gain has skyrocketed so that the vets themselves are now doing the happy dance when they see him.
Our journey was a long one but we stuck together through it. And Gremlin is the best dog you'll ever meet. I think hes even made a positive difference with his success stories too. He is so much like a little person sometimes I think he really doesn't know he is a dog and that's ok cause I love him more like one of my kids anyways. And I am so grateful for everyone who helped us get to this point.