Shadow didn’t just need veterinary care. He needed detective work.

He was a little 14-pound mystery wrapped in fur and anxiety. The pooch couldn’t bark, or eat on his own, or really open his mouth at all, and he was in pain. He’d arrived at the Connecticut Humane Society due to landlord rules and had been surviving on milk and soft food fed by hand.

How much longer he could have gone on was anyone’s guess.

Imagine not being able to talk, or put a morsel of food in your mouth. No wonder Shadow was full of frustrated, nervous energy and shied away from people, as well as other dogs.

The pup was only 1 year old, and CHS’ staff medical team was determined to find out what was wrong, and, most importantly, to treat it. Shadow would be given food and water through a syringe in the meantime.

The veterinary department performed multiple exams, x-rays, blood tests and antibody tests, and had a sneaking suspicion an autoimmune disorder was to blame. It’s called masticatory muscle myositis, or MMM, and it causes the body to attack its own muscle tissue. Soon, a test confirmed it, and Shadow started a medication to get it under control.

It would take months to get his jaw to open at a near-normal level. There was no choice but to be patient. But one week in, Shadow could open his mouth a small amount…and eat watered-down canned food from a bowl! His human friends measured how much he could open his jaw every few days, and millimeter by millimeter, he made progress.

When Shadow went to a foster home, he found his bark! He learned to beg for food now that he could enjoy eating, and began putting on weight…it was well deserved! And he preferred being with people over being alone. He’d rediscovered what it meant to be a dog.

After four months of care with CHS, Shadow was ready for adoption. He’d never be able to open his mouth fully, and some of the muscle in his jaw would never come back, but he was now a happy little boy who could do all the things dogs love to do.

He’d become a lap dog, and he found a family who was looking for a small dog they could cuddle! He settled into his new home immediately, and Mom says, “Shadow is doing fantastic in his new home. He is a wonderful addition to our family! I am so happy to have him in my life!”