Animal Control called us about a skinny, stray dog who couldn't
open his mouth. They e-mailed a photo showing him looking
both frightened and emaciated. With a jaw fused shut, he was
We asked our veterinary surgeons in Spokane to do an exam.
If the dog had a major orthopedic problem, they would be the
ones doing the operation anyway.
The surgeons called us with the news: The dog had a rare
jaw muscle disease called masticatory myositis. Surgery wasn't
Our internal medicine specialist in Helena said we could
attack the disease with drugs, although the chances of success
weren't good. In the meantime, we could put in a stomach tube
for feeding and medicating.
When we first saw Travis, we couldn't believe how shut his
jaw really was. He couldn't get his tongue out. We couldn't
get a finger in.
We learned how to feed and medicate Travis through a stomach
tube. The disease had progressed too far and after months
of drug therapy, we managed to get his mouth open only ¼
of an inch.
But we also learned that Travis could eat enough on his own
if we blended up a special liquid food that he could happily
slurp. And he wants to eat! Four times a day, he slurps away.
The other dogs love Travis' special food. They wait for him
to finish so they can lick his bowl clean. Because Travis
can't lick the bowl clean himself, there's always something
Travis also gets a special wardrobe. To keep him from pulling
out his stomach tube, he always wears clothing to cover it
up. He has both cool weather gear (seen here) and summer outfits
made by a wonderful volunteer.
Along with good nutrition came energy
and lots of
it! This youngster takes off like a rocket and races around
the yard. He loves wrestling with his other disabled friends.
The fact that he can't open his mouth to grab doggie legs
while wrestling doesn't hold him back
Travis uses his
front teeth like a saw. He can't bark, either, but makes a
muffled "woof" sound with his cheeks puffed out.
Travis knows he's more than 'different'. After all, with
his own culinary creations and fashion wardrobe, he thinks
he's downright special.