Monday, February 20, 2012

Evolution of Sidney's Bailey Chair

Since we got Sidney's Megaesophagus diagnosis when he was 10 weeks old, we knew he would hopefully be growing and his Bailey Chair would need to grow with him. So what we did was make the Bailey Chair able to be very large, but adjustable to start out small.
The above photo is the first version. You can see it is kind of a "Bailey Chair made within a Bailey Chair." We left room so that the sides could get wider. We also made the holder for the Paw Bar (on the sides) able to be raised higher as he grew. We would just unscrew it and re-screw it at the proper height. We also made a back spacer that we inserted into the chair. We would make it smaller as he grew and then re-insert it into the chair.

Here is his first test after we made it. You can see how small he is in the chair - but the way we made the spacing and adjustable parts, he fits in there pretty well. We obviously over estimated the pillow he sat on - which we changed, eventually to a folded up towel. We did pad the chair with Gym Flooring from Dick's Sporting Goods that has held up very well.

Above is his first meal in the chair when he was just a little 14 pound baby. It took him a while to get used to the chair - but we sat with him the whole time and started out in small time blocks, building up to the 30 minutes we now do. It took a few months if I remember correctly.

So as Sidney grew, we made several small adjustments - making the paw bar higher and making the back spacer smaller and smaller. It was always a special day when we made adjustments. It meant we were having success in Sidney's health. He was gaining weight, getting nutrients and growing into a big boy. You can see from this above photo that it has been adjusted compared to the earlier pictures. Ultimately, once Sidney was full grown, we took the Bailey Chair and made the final measurements. Using the same chair and materials from the original version, we made the final version of the Bailey Chair, complete with a new paint job. The final photo is below. Sidney usually sits with his paws both up on the paw bar, but he is so comfortable in there now, he sometimes just relaxes with one paw on the bar. Whatever works.

So ultimately, we were able to make the most out of our situation. We were worried about the cost of building multiple chairs, but out of necessity, we figured out how to make this work. We even have his Portable Bailey Chair set at the final height and size as well (see below). So now both of his Bailey Chairs are working our well and so is Sidney.


  1. You have perfected the Bailey Chair and have helped many on the group that weren't able to make one and/or afford to pay someone to make one. You are awesome!!

    Linda with Angel GSD Baron

  2. I love reading your blog! and I think Sydney is so lucky to have you to look after him, lots of love to you both from Scotland xx

  3. Hi my Sadie (12 year old mix) has recently been diagnosed with Mega E. I found your blog while trying to get information on how to help her. We are having a time right now with the learning curve. She has a bailey chair. the internal medicine vet put her on a highly digestible diet that I make for her. I watch her like a hawk and think we may have caught early aspiration pneumonia she is on meds now. I am hydrating with knox Blox (thanks to your blog.) which bulk geletin do you buy at Amazon? THIS IS SCARY!!!!!!!!!!!

  4. Sounds like you're doing everything you can for Sadie - great job - it does get easier and less scary with time. I don't remember what bulk Gelatin Tiffany bought - I'm sure it was whatever was cheap - it is the unflavored gelatin - I think we got 5 pounds.

    Hang in there!!

  5. I have written a chapter for a small animal surgery book covering megaesophagus. I would like to include a picture of a dog in a Bailey Chair. Unfortunately all pictures on the net I found are of low resolution. Would it be possible that you send me pictures of Sidney in the chair at high resolution, so that we could include them in the book? Please provide also a reference for the pictures.

    Sincerely yours, Peter.

  6. Hi,
    I am wondering if this chair would work for a small dog who also has a very weak back end due to pelvic fractures from being hit by a car? She has lost a lot of strength and I don't know if there is enough support in the chair to hold her up for the required 30 min. or so?
    What do you think? (if you wouldn't mind giving an opinion)

    Thanks so much for taking the time to read and answer.

  7. I am wondering if this type of chair would work for a small, 10 lb, terrier dog who also has a very weak rear end due to a pelvic fracture from being hit by a car.
    Although she can walk she is quite wobbly and I don't know how much support this chair offers to hold her up for the required length of time, 30 min.

    Thanks so much for taking the time to read and respond to my question. I really appreciate it as I am trying so hard to find the right thing to do for this special girl.


    1. Hi Cathy - I know that the Yahoo Megaesophagus Group and the Facebook Megaesophagus group has lots of photos of people's inventive "Bailey Chair" methods. People use car seats and strap their dogs in, baby chairs, etc. I bet you would fins something there that would help your special girl stay vertical, while making sure she is comfortable.

      Let me know if you find something!! I am confident you will!

  8. Thanks for keeping this information out there. We lost our Curly to Cancer, not mega e at the age of 18. a friend of mine sent this my way and it made me smile. So, I do indeed thank you for that!