Steve and Nicki King of Holley by the Sea have three dogs, two of which are special needs. Alfie, age 12, is an Old English Sheepdog who has a little trouble getting up and down in his older age. He wears a special harness that allows the Kings to give him a lift up when he needs it. And he gets good aqua-therapy in their pool with his life vest on. “You can see him relax as soon as he is in the water far enough to take the weight off of him,” Nicki said.
The Kings other two canine kids are mini Australian Shepherds. Lucy, a tri-color, is two years old and eager to make the acquaintance of anyone visiting her home. Lucy really made her mark on the hearts of the Kings with her sweetness and beautiful face, so much so that Steve began looking for another like her when they moved to Navarre from Texas. He kept in touch with the breeder that produced Lucy, and came across pictures of a merle colored female puppy. He couldn’t get the little puppy off of his mind, even though Nicki wasn’t crazy about the merle color. “When he kept showing me her picture, I knew it didn’t matter what I thought. It was too late – he loved her already,” Nicki said with a smile. Steve flew to Dallas to pick up the little one, named Maggie, and rented a car to drive her back to Navarre.
Now the Kings say it was fate that brought them together with Maggie. “Thank goodness it was us. At first I felt guilty for keeping on about her, but now I believe it was the reason I couldn’t shake her,” Steve said.
Now nine months old, Maggie began showing signs that something was wrong early on. Signs that were easily explainable as nothing serious. “Really the symptom was, she would just regurgitate at night,” Nicki said. The Kings thought what any reasonable pet owner would think; she drank too much water, or she was too active after she ate. But when the regurgitation happened every night, they knew something more must be wrong.
They credit their veterinarian, Dr. Whiteside at Wynn Haven Animal Hospital, for helping them with the diagnosis. Whiteside went through testing for several diseases including persistent right aortic arch (PRAA) and myasthenia gravis. But after a barium x-ray, Maggie was finally diagnosed with Megaesophagus (ME), a condition in which the muscles in the esophagus fail and cannot contract to push the food down the esophagus.
Read the full article in the June 2 issue of Navarre Press. Click HERE to subscribe online to your community newspaper.