In the fall of 2017, Andrea Fletcher lost her dog and BFF of 18 years. She was mourning, but wanted to rescue another pup in need. That’s when she came across the perfect match, through the Puerto Rico Dog Fund: Libby.
“Libby was found at just a few weeks old, near death, on the side of a highway in Puerto Rico right before Hurricane Maria,” says Andrea. “When I saw her face on an Instagram post, I immediately knew we were meant to be together.”
The stray pup traveled from Puerto Rico to Los Angeles to be with Andrea, only to then be diagnosed with a rare condition. The journey was a tough one, but Libby and Andrea persisted time and time again. Today, Libby is healthy and thriving, thanks to the unconditional love of her owner.
Dog Whisperer HQ: How did you get Libby from Puerto Rico to her new home with you?
Andrea: The Puerto Rico Dog Fund got her vetted and gave her all of her shots, and arranged her flight to LA. I picked her up from LAX where a volunteer from the rescue was there with me to take care of the paperwork once she landed. It was love at first sight. I knew in my heart. There was no question.
DW: What was it like when you first brought her home?
A: Libby instantly knew it was home. She kept picking up the toys I bought her and bringing them to me. It was so cute.
DW: What issues did you eventually encounter with Libby?
A: I noticed she kept regurgitating her food. The vet diagnosed her with a condition called Megaesophagus, which basically means her esophagus is enlarged and the muscles don’t work to push food to her stomach.
DW: That sounds very serious. What did the vet suggest as treatment?
A: When the vet told me there was no known cure for Megaesophagus and to consider euthanasia, I immediately researched the condition in hopes that Libby could be saved. I found a Facebook support group, Upright Canine Brigade, filled with pet parents all over the world that manage the disorder with their dogs.
DW: With advice from the support group, how were you able to help Libby?
A: I used a Bailey Chair, which looks like a high chair for a dog. It keeps the dog in an upright position so gravity lets food slide down to the stomach. A family from the support group sponsored us because I didn’t have the money. They paid to have the chair made through Bailey Chairs for Dogs. You take the measurements for your dog and they make them specifically to fit your dog.
DW: Was anything else done to treat this disorder?
A: I then took Libby to a specialist who concluded her Megaesophagus was caused by a birth defect where a blood vessel is overgrown and wrapped around the esophagus. They told me she was a candidate for surgery but it would not cure her Megaesophagus — just make it easier to manage and give her a better chance of gaining weight. Five weeks after surgery, X-rays revealed that Libby’s esophagus had totally healed. Even the vet couldn’t believe it.
DW: That is absolutely wonderful to hear. How is Libby today?
A: Libby is now two-and-a-half-years old, and is totally healthy. She eats like a normal dog. In the course of a year, she went from 15 pounds to 45 pounds and is the sweetest, happiest dog ever. We donated her Bailey Chair to another dog in need from the support group.
DW: What are some of Libby’s favorite activities?
A: Libby’s favorite thing is going to the dog park. We spend an hour there every single day and she has a whole pack of friends that she plays with. She also loves going to the beach; she loves to jump in the water then roll around in the sand.
DW: You’ve helped changed Libby’s life — how has she changed your yours?
A: Our lives are now filled with love and adventure. Libby goes everywhere with me. She’s my best friend and has brought nothing but joy and purpose into my life. For anyone that takes on a special needs dog, don’t give up. With love and care, anything is possible.
Check out Libby’s Instagram @LibbyTheMiraclePup.