This Baby Dog Eats in a Highchair

By Taylor Huestis

Megaesophagus isn’t just a mouthful to say. It’s a big deal… especially for a little puppy like Potato.

Luckily, Potato was one of 10 pups born in the SPCA’s care where they had access to around-the-clock support.

His mama, Princess, was a pregnant stray brought to safety at the Cape Breton SPCA. To help Princess, she made the journey up to our sister shelter, the Colchester SPCA, where she met a wonderful foster family.

The pups and mama were doing well in foster care. That is, until it was time to start introducing food. There was something very unique about Potato.

Normally, your esophagus has the important job of transporting food from your mouth to your stomach. But with a Megaesophagus, the esophagus expands. Pets like Potato have a harder time trying to swallow and keep their food down. It’s a serious condition that requires special treatment.

Part of that treatment included a puppy highchair!

This way, Potato could eat his blended-up food staying upright and gravity could do all the work. Potato was getting the hang of this new way of eating. But while the other pups and mama found loving families, Potato continued to wait and wait. He needed someone very patient and understanding of his needs.

Thankfully, Potato met Maria Norris-Boudreau.

“From the first moment I met Potato (who we renamed Tater) I knew I wanted him in my life,” reflected Maria. “He’s a very handsome and gentle boy. With my health care background I was drawn to him and destined to adopt him and give him the best life that I could.”

Maria is a retired Registered Nurse who worked at the IWK Hospital in high-risk obstetrics for 32 years. She begged her husband, a retired Advance Care Paramedic, to come meet him. They fell in love and knew they just needed to take Tater home.

“Because of his Megaesophagus, Tater eats a slurry diet consisting of ground up kibble and canned food mixed with water,” Maria explained. “We feed him four times a day. Tater acts like a starving puppy at each feed. We stop several times during his meal to slow him down and he remains upright for 5-10 minutes after eating. He has no issues doing this. Tater also loves plain Greek yogurt, pure pumpkin, and apple sauce for treats.”

Although feeding time requires lots of focus… overall the family is just having so much fun together.

“My husband’s favourite moment was realizing how well Tater can play fetch,” giggled Maria. “Tater loves running after a ball and most times returns it. Tater is learning to sit and provides us with lots of cuddles. We have only had Tater for a short time but he has quickly become a loving part of our family. We consider Tater to be our special boy!”

Despite the challenges pets like Potato face, they have such beautiful and resilient spirits. And thankfully, there are wonderful families that can see just how special they are.

“We would absolutely encourage people to consider adopting animals with special needs if they are in the position to provide lots of time, patience, and love,” shared Maria. “All animals deserve to be cared for in a loving home.”

Taylor Huestis

Taylor is the Communications & Development Officer with the Nova Scotia SPCA and proud adoptive fur-parent to two cats named Bonnie and Boy (yep - that is his real name) and a palliative pup named Hazel. Connect with Taylor at or 902-222-0378 today.