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Great Dane Overcomes Extreme Neglect and a Rare Disorder, Now Ready for a New Family

Great Dane Overcomes Extreme Neglect and a Rare Disorder, Now Ready for a New Family

Ryder, a Great Dane, faced extreme neglect before being rescued by the Dogwood Animal Rescue Project following a crucial call from a local animal shelter in Sonoma County, California. Found in appalling condition, Ryder was not only skinny but also battling severe mange, skin infections, and a serious respiratory illness. The rescue team took on the formidable challenge of saving a dog who appeared on the edge of survival, initiating Ryder’s arduous road to recovery.

A Devoted Canine in Perilous Health

Upon his arrival at the rescue center, Ryder’s dire state was evident. The Dogwood Animal Rescue Project later shared on Facebook, “Upon arrival, he was raw, in excruciating pain, and dripping blood. He regurgitated almost everything he consumed, even with a cautious refeeding strategy, and mucus continuously flowed from his nose.” His carers were worried about life-threatening issues like aspiration pneumonia, but the frail dog could not handle oral medication. Instead, he had to be given injections to fight the severe illness, demonstrating immense bravery throughout his treatment.

Defying the odds, Ryder improved day by day. Through veterinary care, medication, skin treatments, and abundant affection, he recovered externally and internally. His mange was replaced by a coat of beautiful gray fur, and he put on vital weight. Most importantly, his critical respiratory infection completely healed!

As he regained health, Ryder began to explore his environment and bond with others at the shelter, revealing his friendly and playful nature.

A Promising Future Despite Megaesophagus

While Ryder has overcome or is managing many of his health issues, a recent veterinary checkup identified an ongoing challenge: megaesophagus. This condition, characterized by an enlarged esophagus that fails to transport food effectively, is likely why Ryder struggled so much with food and medicine. It causes him to regurgitate and vomit frequently, but his carers and potential forever family have several strategies to help him cope.

Experienced dog rescuer Rocky Kanaka, who along with his wife Kelly, previously fostered a dog with the same condition, learned effective management techniques. Their foster dog, Jalapeño, thrived on a diet of food with a “smoothie-like consistency” and ate in a custom-made Bailey chair to keep him upright, aiding the gravity-dependent movement of food through his esophagus and reducing the risk of complications like respiratory pneumonia.

However, aspiration pneumonia remains a critical risk for dogs like Jalapeño and Ryder. The team at the rescue is experimenting with different food textures and upright feeding positions to discover the best methods for Ryder. His future family must be dedicated to adhering to this special feeding routine consistently, including securing a Bailey chair that can accommodate a Great Dane’s size. Luckily, numerous resources are available to support them.


Despite his challenging journey, Ryder, at just 8 months old, is full of love and ready to bring joy to a devoted forever home. Described by his rescuers as “affectionate, playful, friendly, and happy,” he eagerly awaits a permanent family.

For more details on Ryder and how to apply to adopt him, please visit the Dogwood Animal Rescue Project’s website.


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