By looking at English Bulldog Gus now, you would never know he had a hard life.
In September, the three-year-old dog was rescued by Dawna Pederzani and Karen Sturtevant from a case of neglect and abuse. The women run Vermont English Bulldog Rescue in Williston, Vermont.
“We got a call that he was gonna be euthanized and would be taken, so [we] jumped in the car, drove up and got him,” said Pederzani.
Pederzani and Sturtevant say at the time, Gus was in pretty bad shape, which included him being dangerously underweight.
“[He was a] skeleton. Skin infections, eye infections, teeth were completely rotted in his mouth. He was still in tact — possibly being used for breeding. He was just a health disaster,” said Pederzani.
Gus had multiple surgeries for other health problems, when veterinarians discovered a life-threatening condition called Megaesophagus.
“He eats fine, then the food sits anywhere along the esophagus and eventually he will regurgitate it,” said Pederzani.
For bulldogs, Pederzani says the disease is particularly deadly.
“Their nose is shortened, everything is squished. When they regurgitate and they breathe in, they breathe the food back into their lungs,” said Pederzani.
After doing some research, Pederzani and Sturtevant found out something called a Bailey Chair could help.
“The chair was actually designed by family with a mixed-breed dog named Bailey who had mega and they and their vet determined that if he was held upright while he was fed, the food would pass through normally,” said Pederzani.
So, Pederzani went to Home Depot. But after having shoulder surgery, she knew she couldn’t build the chair on her own. That’s when she asked Corey Shanteau for help. He’s worked at Home Depot for the past six years.
“He heard the story and said, ‘Absolutely. Bring me the plans and I’ll have it built in a couple of days,'” said Pederzani.
The chair came at no cost to the rescue.
“It gave Gus a lifeline, because if Gus can’t eat, he can’t live. So literally this could save his life,” said Sturtevant.
A man of few words, Shanteau says it was simply “the right thing to do.”
“I guess this one just being close to the holidays, and helping them out for the work that they do with the bulldogs themselves, it just makes it feel a little bit more special, I think,” said Shanteau.
“I don’t think Corey thought it was a big deal but for us it’s huge. For him, it’s huge,” said Pederzani.
Pederzani and Sturtevant say Gus will be able to be put up for adoption once he is more trained on his new chair.