PULLMAN, Wash. - Jingle the corgi puppy has had a rough go of his very short life.
"Seeing how bad his shunt was, it did kind of hit us," said Dr. Jillian Haines, a veterinarian at Washington State University's College of Veterinary Medicine, "we were all a little sick to our stomach at the idea."
She was the first doctor that Jingle worked with at the school, when he was surrendered by his breeder who was unable to keep Jingle healthy.
Jingle suffered from a genetic condition called a liver shunt, in which a vessel that isn't supposed to be there, shunts blood around his liver.
"When we first saw him, he only weighed about eight pounds and at that time he was about five months old," said Haines, "he should have been two to three times that size."
Liver shunts aren't an uncommon condition in dogs, but Jingle's was in a league of its own veterinarians say.
It was massive and also separated into a number of other vessels, keeping most of Jingle's blood from getting filtered by the liver.
"The shunt was connecting the blood from his intestines right to the blood in his heart," said Dr. Boel Fransson, Jingle's veterinary surgeon, "that means toxins from the intestines are getting access to the blood stream and his brain is filling with those toxins."
She said Jingle suffered from serious neurological disease, was drowsy and confused.
Other symptoms of dogs with liver shunts include, vomiting, diahrea, seizures, frequent urination, urinary stones, shrunken livers among others, all of which would get worse over time, and especially as they eat.
Untreated, the condition would have killed Jingle quickly.
But what to do? Jingle didn't have an owner and the scope of the surgery was immense, if not impossible. And it couldn't be done any time soon, Jingle was too small and would have to grow.
In stepped Jamie McAtee, founder of Rescue4All.
"I drove down to WSU because I knew it was going to be expensive, and I needed to meet this little guy," she said, "he did not feel at all well."
But she took him on the second she saw his smiling corgi face. The next steps were tricky.
Jingle had to be put on a special diet, because food was literally killing him.
"We came up with this whole fresh diet in order to get his protein as low as we could, but still allow him to grow as a puppy," she said.
Jingle would need to survive long enough to reach surgery.
As he grew, on a diet formulated by a holistic veterinarian, his foster mom at Rescue4All and even a human nutritionist, the stars began to align.
A human doctor, a corgi owner in his own right, heard tell of Jingle's predicament and took an interest, not only in his adorable patient, but also the rarity of the procedure.
He told KXLY only 250 or so human cases like Jingle's had ever been reported, and it would need special pediatric tools, tools unavailable to veterinarians to get the surgery done successfully. The surgery, would likely be a veterinary first in its complexity and participants.
There was only one thing left outstanding, the veterinarians were ready, the doctor was ready, Jingle was ready, but how to pay for the expensive procedure.
Never doubt the corgi crowd though. A Facebook group dedicated solely to corgis raised money from all around the world.
"Within 48 hours they had raised over $6,000 for him to have all the procedures done, whatever he needed," said McAtee.
So last Thursday at noon, after charming his way through pre-op and anesthesia, Jingle the corgi was on his way into surgery.
"It was all done with long skinny catheters, that we inserted into a vessel, and the we fed everything into those catheters," said Dr. Boel Fransson, "we deposited different types of coils that will basically over time act as a blood clot."
The team of doctors only had to make two small incisions and were guided by ultrasound.
"We were hopeful, we were optimistic, we were keeping our fingers crossed," said McAtee.
Two and a half hours later she got the call.
"He's out of surgery, he's doing well, he bounced out of anesthetic, it was amazing," she said, "it could not have gone any better."
Mere days after his procedure, Jingle was very visibly back to what he should have been all along, a bouncy, energetic, kissy corgi puppy.
"It is a testament to what can happen when a group of good people come together," said McAtee.
Veterinarians at WSU say that Jingle's procedure will be used as a model to save other dogs going forwards.
"There's very few places in the country that would have even attempted this," said Haines.
Jingle will be required to stay on a special diet and get blood tests regularly over the next two years. His life span should hold many happy years ahead, many more than what he would have had otherwise.
More information on WSU's College of Veterinary Medicine can be found by clicking here.
Click here to go to the Rescue4All website.
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