Homeless Great Dane Surprises Rescuers When He Does the Impossible… Survives


Ryder, a Great Dane who had been through a rough time, was at rock bottom when the Dogwood Animal Rescue Project stepped in after an urgent call from a local shelter in Sonoma County, California. He was found in terrible shape, not just skin and bones but also suffering from mange, skin infections, and a tough respiratory illness. The rescue team had their work cut out for them, trying to save a pup who could barely hang on after everything he had been through. But their dedication kicked off Ryder’s tough journey toward recovery.

A Loving Dog in Life-Threatening Condition

When Ryder arrived at the rescue, it became clear just what horrible shape he was in. Dogwood Animal Rescue Project explained in a later Facebook update, “He was raw, and in so much pain on arrival and literally dripping blood. He vomited up most of what he ate, even on a careful refeeding program, and mucus poured from his nose. ” His rescuers feared fatal complications such as aspiration pneumonia, but the sickly pup was unable to tolerate the medication. He had to receive injections to reverse this scary illness, but he couldn’t have been any braver throughout his treatments.

Amazingly, Ryder started to improve a little more each day. After some vet visits, meds, skin treatments, and plenty of love, he healed both inside and out. His contagious mange gave way to a gorgeous coat of gray fur, and he put on some much-needed weight. Even better, that nasty respiratory infection was pretty much gone!

Before long, this purebred Dane (per DNA) was well enough to explore his surroundings and make new friends at the shelter. That’s when his friendly and playful personality really began to shine!

Great Dane Survives Severe Neglect & a Rare Condition, Now Seeks Loving Home
via Dogwood Animal Rescue Project

A Mega Bright Future For a Dog With Megaesophagus

While many of Ryder’s health concerns are resolved or currently being treated, recent vet visits revealed a long-term struggle: megaesophagus. This condition occurs when a dog’s esophagus is larger than it should be and loses the ability to effectively transport food, and it’s likely the main reason why this Great Dane pup has had so much trouble tolerating food and medication. For Ryder, it results in frequent regurgitation and vomiting, but there are several things his rescuers and forever family can do to help.

Just ask pro dog rescuer Rocky Kanaka! Rocky and his wife, Kelly, fostered a dog with megaesophagus and they learned so much about the condition and its treatments. For their foster pup, Jalapeño, it was essential to feed him food with a “smoothie-like consistency” and to keep him upright in his specially-made Bailey chair during and after eating. This helps the esophagus do its job with the aid of gravity and reduces the risk of dangerous compilations like respiration pneumonia.

Rocky Kanaka and his foster dog Jalapeño.
Rocky Kanaka and his foster dog Jalapeño. He is sitting in a Bailey chair, which helps dogs with megaesophagus digest food as they are forced to eat upright.

Unfortunately, aspiration pneumonia will always be a risk for pups like Jalapeño and Ryder, due to their megaesophagus condition. It’s a serious issue, but Ryder’s rescue team is trying out different food textures and having him eat in an upright position to see what works best. His future family will need to stick to this special feeding routine every time, including finding a Bailey chair that can handle his Great Dane size. But don’t worry—there are plenty of resources to help out!

Great Dane Survives Severe Neglect & a Rare Condition, Now Seeks Loving Home
via Dogwood Animal Rescue Project

Despite all he’s been through, Ryder is just an 8-month-old puppy who has so much love to give. His rescuers describe him as “affectionate, playful, friendly,” and “happy,” though he’ll be even happier when he’s settled in in a dedicated forever home!

If you want more information about Ryder and his application process, visit the Dogwood Animal Rescue Project website to learn more.


Coffee that Support Shelter Dogs

Medium Roast Organic 12 oz

Dark Roast Organic 12 oz

Flip Coffee Enamel Mug

Share: