Remarkable recovery: Special chair improves sick dog’s outlook

Thank you for being one of our most loyal readers. Please consider supporting community journalism by subscribing.


There was a time when Abby Propst thought the family dog Flapjack Charlie would not make it through the night.

“I remember waking up in the mornings petting his head and just thinking, ‘I don’t know that you are going to make it through this day,’” said Propst.

Propst, her husband, David, and their three young children, Grayle, Gideon and Gabriella, had adopted Flapjack Charlie from Friends of Pitt County Animal Shelter and brought him to their home near Buckhorn Crossing in January.

“He was perfectly fine for the first nine months we had him, then he just started regurgitating and getting sick,” Propst said. “We took him to the doctor, and it took us a good six weeks to figure out what was going on.”

Flapjack Charlie was diagnosed with a rare condition called canine megaesophagus, a food regurgitation disease.

“When a dog has this kind of a disease, it’s very trial-and-error with food and everything,” Propst said. “Muscles don’t work to get everything down to his stomach. The food would pool right there in his lower esophagus right before his stomach, which caused the regurgitation. He would regurgitate everything he ate.”

Propst reached out online to a support group on Facebook and soon found that a device called a Bailey chair could be a solution .

A group member whose dog had recently passed offered to send Flapjack Charlie his own chair.

“They wanted to get this chair to somebody else that needed it, so he sent it,” Propst said. “We just got it a couple of weeks ago. He’s done really well with it.”

The chair allows Flapjack Charlie to sit vertically to consume his meal.

“Before we got this chair, we had to hold him,” Propst said. “We would have to sit him on our lap for literally 30 minutes.”

Now, with the chair, feeding the dog is usually just a five-minute endeavor.

“I burp him, too. It helps get all the bubbles out,” Propst said. “We usually let him sit in here for five minutes or so to make sure that all of the food gets to his stomach. He usually just sits there, especially if one of is petting him,” Propst said. “Usually that’s the kids’ job.”

Flapjack Charlie’s food is mixed with water in one bowl to soften it so that it will go down easy.

With a combination of medicines and the Bailey chair, Flapjack Charlie is getting better and he has put on weight.

“He’s finally in the last two weeks gotten most of his energy back,” Propst said. “He is hyper and has forgotten about everything that we have taught him in the nine months we had him before he got sick, so we are kind of starting over. Now he has all that energy to run, where he didn’t have that before.”

The Propsts are thrilled that Flapjack Charlie has recovered, but they are also relieved.

The family’s other dog, Baxter, passed away in July of 2016 after 16 years.

“He was a mutt of a mutt of a mutt, and he was the sweetest thing and completely healthy,” Propst said.

Flapjack Charlie was adopted six months after Baxter’s passing.

“We had just lost a dog, and we were just heartbroken thinking it might happen again,” Propst said.

Propst said now that Flapjack Charlie has gotten his health back, he has forgotten all of his puppy training.

“He’s jumping, but that’s OK,” Propst said. “We can reteach him. He’s still here. His behavior has gotten worse, but that is a good thing. We’re just glad that he’s doing better.”