12 Saves of Christmas: Nala & Lee (save #11)

The first week of January 2016 we received two very different dogs, with two very different medical situations.

Lee, a 4-month-old yellow lab mix, was brought in due to chronic vomiting and was underweight. He couldn’t seem to keep any food down.

Nala, an 11-year-old black lab mix, came in extremely overweight with numerous masses, an eye infection, and in pretty rough shape overall.

Through medical treatment, biopsies and multiple tests for both, we learned that both Nala and Lee each had advanced medical conditions. Lee was diagnosed with megaesophagus, a birth defect with his aorta that caused his esophagus to be partially pinched and in turn stretches the upper end of the esophagus. This prevents Lee from eating solid food. Nala has immune mediated arthritis and presumed lupus. The diseases cause her to have sore joints and skin lesions. After diagnosis, we knew that both dogs would require a home and family with the ability to provide a higher level of care for both of them to live happy and healthy lives.

Because of their medical needs and our timeline of treatment, both Nala and Lee were candidates for foster. We reached out to a local couple, Darrin (a long-time dog volunteer) and Nicole (a former staff member), to see if they were interested in welcoming one foster dog into their home. However, as soon as Darrin and Nicole visited and met Lee and Nala they said “why not take both?”

We did the routine dog-to-dog introductions, to ensure the dogs enjoyed each other’s company. To our surprise, this puppy and senior gal thoroughly enjoyed each other! We happily sent them home with Darrin and Nicole, where they both began to thrive. After their foster period concluded, Darrin and Nicole officially adopted them into their family. With Nicole’s veterinary background and Darrin’s dog experience, both Nala and Lee’s medical needs are completely under control. Nala has even lost 20 pounds! And Lee happily drinks every meal “milk shake” standing up straight, something he was trained to do to ensure his food digests properly.

We asked Darrin and Nicole to tell us about their experience adopting not one- but two- special needs dogs, and how it has changed their life for the better.


“Nala really picked us. She had a way of looking at us that made you feel that she was reading your soul. She was so cuddly and sweetly craved attention. When we met Lee we could tell that he was full of life and was spunky. We felt that he would love to play outside and enjoy our backyard. We love the outdoors and it seemed that Lee would enjoy spending time outside with us.

Nala and Lee have changed our lives completely. They both have made us very happy. There is more love in the house, less room on the couch and we are busier in caring for them. We love every minute of it.


We look forward to celebrating this winter season with both dogs. Nala will enjoy spending time with her extended family and giving them the gift of cuddling and her love. Lee is excited about playing with his extended family (dogs included) and can’t wait to play in the snow and join us in snowshoeing several times this winter. The holiday season is about spending time with the ones you love and we can’t think of a better way to celebrate than to spend time with Nala and Lee.”

We love Nala and Lee’s story, two very different dogs in need of immediate treatment and care to survive. With Darrin and Nicole, they will have all the love, affection and care they will ever need (even if the couch has less room these days). We thank them for welcoming these two special pooches into their lives; we know it’s exactly where they are meant to be.

You can help support animals like Nala and Lee who arrive at the ARLGP in need of immediate medical treatment and care by making a donation to our Carson Medical Fund


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