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Tag: dwarfism

Small dog makes big difference in boy’s life

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A little dog has made a big difference for a five-year-old boy with dwarfism.

It was a veterinarian friend who suggested to Quaden Bayles’ mother that their family take a homeless Shih Tzu named Buddy into their home in Brisbane, Australia.

Buddy, 9, has the same condition as Quaden — achondroplasia.

“I couldn’t believe it when she said she had a rescue dog that had achondroplasia,” Quaden’s mother, Yarraka Bayles, told the Daily Mail. “I had no idea the condition affects animals too.”

For years, Quaden Bayles was teased and bullied and, despite receiving counseling, he refused to talk about his condition, or to let any one else in his family mention it, either.

“It’s affected him to the point where he needs counseling because he’s said he wishes he was dead,” his mother said.

Then a vet friend contacted her to say she had a dog she was caring for on behalf of Animal Rescue Qld (ARQ) that her son should meet.

“As soon as Quaden saw Buddy, the bond was instant,” Bayles said.

dog-dwaquadenandbuddy2“Quaden now proudly accepts that he’s got dwarfism, because Buddy’s given him that reason to think that it’s cool,” said his mother. “So he tells everyone, ‘My dog has dwarfism like me,’ and it’s the first time we’ve ever, in Quaden’s five years of life, heard him say the word, because we are not allowed to say dwarfism or achondroplasia.”

“… They really are in this journey together and I hope their story helps other people realize it’s cool to be small.”

Quaden suffers from numerous health problems and has had eight surgeries already. He is increasingly relying on a wheelchair because of his weak muscle tone and nerve damage. He is scheduled to have more surgery soon, but Bayles said the hospital has a pet area so Quaden will be able to keep Buddy close during the process.

Buddy has health issues too and the family has to give him medication every day for arthritis – a common complaint with achondroplasia sufferers.

Quaden’s mother now works to raise awareness of the condition that affects 1 in every 30,000 children born in world. She has set up a support group for families with children who have dwarfism called Stand Tall 4 Dwarfism.

Buddy serves as the group’s mascot.

(Photos courtesy of the Bayles family)

Therapy dog can’t see the smiles he brings

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Born with dwarfism, and without eyes, a golden retriever named Smiley is bringing comfort and joy to hospital patients, school students and nursing home residents in the small town of Stouffville, Canada.

Rescued from a puppy mill when he was one or two years old, Smiley was timid at first, said his owner, Joanne George.

“He was very scared,” she recalled. “[The dogs] had never been out of that barn.”

But as he came out of his shell, she saw that he had a personality worth sharing:

“People were so drawn to him, so inspired by him.” George told CBS News. “I realized this dog has to be a therapy dog — I have to share him.”

Smiley joined the St. John Ambulance Therapy Dog program and, now 12 years old, still spends several hours a day dropping in on patients at retirement homes, visiting with special needs children in a library reading program and comforting patients at nursing homes near Stouffville.

George said when she first brought him home Smiley quickly bonded with another one of her dogs, a deaf Great Dane named Tyler.

“Tyler was so bouncy and crazy and happy go lucky and [Smiley] turned into the same dog,” George said. “He came out from underneath the tables where he was always hiding.”

“Dogs can come back from anything, they forget their past,” George said. “We as humans dwell on the past.”

One of Smiley’s favorite people to visit is a man named Teddy, who lives in a nursing home and, up until he met the dog, hadn’t uttered a sound.

“One day, Smiley put his feet up in front of [Teddy] and he started smiling and making noise,” George said. “All of the nurses rushed into the room and said they’ve never seen him smile — never seen any kind of reaction.”

Now every time Smiley visits the nursing home, Teddy is the first person he sees.

After caring for Smiley for 10 years, George says she has learned a lot about how to care for blind dogs: “Don’ t be his eyes, don’t run his life, don’t’ keep him in a bubble … Does he bump into things? Of course, he does. But he does it very carefully.”

George said Smiley changed her life — and was there for many memorable moments. “He came on my first date with me. He was my ring bearer at my wedding.”  He has also brightened up the lives of hundreds more.

Even now, as he nears the end of his, she says — his fur getting whiter, his steps slower — his “tail will never stop wagging.”

(Photo: Joanne George’s Facebook page)

Dwarfism gene found in short-legged dogs

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The same gene that causes some breeds of dogs to have short, stubby legs might also cause dwarfism in people, a new study says.

Scientists think this gene — called a retrogene — controls certain growth receptors. By comparing breeds like basset hounds, corgis and dachsunds to longer-legged breeds,  scientists isolated the gene that stunted growth in dogs, according to a paper in the new issue of the journal Science.

This gene hasn’t “been associated with dwarfism in the past,” says Heidi Parker, first author of the study, so it “opens up a new avenue, a new place to look,” for the cause of some types in humans

Parker, of the National Human Genome Research Institute in Bethesda, Md., compared the genomes of 95 short-legged dogs from eight breeds with the genomes of 702 dogs from 64 breeds without the trait. Then, in a more detailed analysis, the researchers pinpointed an extra stretch of DNA on chromosome 18 in every dog from the eight short-legged breeds, but in none of 204 control dogs they examined, according to an article in Science News.

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