Taiga (6-28- 15) is our miracle dog, in more than one way! For those who can remember back to the breed show ring in the mid-eighties, the Tolivar name immerged, producing several champions. One of these champions was CH Tolivar’s Strike Up the Band, aka Banner. He was bred by Anna Platt, DVM. She had the foresight to have this dog collected and frozen. Twenty-seven years later, with great effort and anticipation on Dr. Platt’s part, Banner’s frozen semen produced 8 puppies. We call them “The Great Eight”! Taiga was one of those miracle puppies. Taiga’s mother is Goldgrove Saraswati Tolivar. Taiga is a lovely girl with a sweet temperament. She has achieved her Puppy S.T.A.R. and her CGC from the A.K.C. She also has her Rally Novice title. She is continuing with her obedience and rally training. The next miracle for Taiga was finding Dr. Chick Weise at the Animal Medical Center in Manhattan, NYC. As you all know, puppies eat the strangest things. When Taiga was about 10 months old she became ill one morning. I rushed her to the emergency clinic where they did a radiograph (x-ray) and saw she has eaten a rock and it had to be surgically removed. This began 8 months of a dog owners nightmare! If it not were for the wonderful research done at the AMC and skill of Dr. Weisse, I am not sure Taiga would be with us today.

Dr. Platt’s comments about Taiga

To describe Taiga there is only one word that comes to mind – miracle. I froze semen from her sire – Ch. Tolivar’s Strike up the Band whelped in 1984. He was a product of concentrated Line-breeding of nephew (the late great Ch. Arco Dob Mann bred by Irene and Edd Bivin) and his aunt (my home bred Ch. Tolivar’s Soolaimon). After career
and raising my daughter it became a lifelong goal to use this semen on a bitch that possessed a close phenotype and pedigree of “my old Dobermans”. Goldgrove’s Saraswati of Tolivar became that bitch. Thankfully, Dr. Powell at the Knight of Kingdom Animal Hospital of Bryan, Texas was skilled and trained to perform the surgical insemination. “Banner’s” semen had been frozen by Bob Herd in 1988 at Palatine, IL. Upon his death and settlement of estate the semen was moved to Lumira, WI at the Veterinary Village Animal Hospital and then shipped to Texas in 2015. Wow – 27 years later! The litter was whelped June 28, 2015. I sat for weeks mesmerized by this litter of the “healthy great eight”! Taiga was one of three black bitches. Her sisters are owned by: Edd Bivin, Kaye Krueger DVM. Taiga has all the great attributes of the beautiful, intelligent, temperament, correctness in structure of the Doberman Pinscher. Her DNA solidified to pass on to future offspring for generations yet to come. Taiga is an integral part of Doberman DNA – health – her sire Banner living to 12 yrs., Arco to 11 yrs. And Soolaimon to 14 yrs. Taiga’s dam (Saraswati – Say) also came from the old Toliver lines bred for longevity, health, correctness in temperament and structure. She has been health tested, OFA – excellent, thyroid – normal, vWD – Carrier,
DVDob DNA – normal, Echocardiogram and Holter tested normal. In this endemic crisis of health issues with the Doberman Pinscher breed, Taiga is a miracle – destined to produce more miracles!!

Taiga and her recovery from esophageal strictures

On the morning of May 23, 2016, 10-month- old Taiga, was not herself. She would not eat and was throwing up. My niece is a vet, Dr. Siubhan Bongiovanni, DVM. She is my 24-7 go to person if anything happens with my dogs. I called her and she said it sounded like a blockage, get Taiga to the emergency clinic asap. Sure enough, the x-ray showed a blockage and surgery was necessary. Taiga had eaten a rock! The surgery took place and it seemed all went well. However, there were complications. Taiga’s recovery did not go well, she could not eat. With the help of Dr. Bongiovanni, we discovered that Taiga had developed esophageal strictures. Taiga could no longer eat like a normal dog. It was like feeding her through a straw, all her meals had to be the consistency of smoothies and fed to her slowly. She had to wear a special muzzle so she would not try to eat anything
other than her smoothies or she could have choked to death. I was very worried about Taiga’s future. What could be done? Dr. Bongiovanni told me that there was a procedure
where a deflated balloon could be put in the esophagus and inflated, to stretch the scare tissue. I tried to locate a specialist in our area but no one could fit us in for 8 weeks. My niece found a specialist in the Syracuse area, Dr. Heather White, DVM,DACVIM At the Veterinary Medical Center and arranged an appointment the very next day. I drove the 3
hours, one way, to have the balloon procedure done. They have to anesthetize the dog, send the tube down and inflate. There was no guarantee that this would work. I had this procedure done 3 times, a week apart and unfortunately, the strictures kept growing back. The future was not looking bright for Taiga. Over the summer I continued with the pureed food. We put up a pen in our driveway, I called it her safe place, where she could be outside, get fresh air and sunshine and not have to wear the muzzle. I continued her training and she even got her AKC CGC, Canine Good Citizen, during all of this! For treats and incentive, I found "Lickety Sticks" on line. They are like a roll-on deodorant with bacon and chicken flavor! My niece continued to do research for us, calling Cornell and Tufts University. She found out about a veterinarian, Dr. Chick Weisse, DVM, DACVS at the Animal Medical Center in NYC, who was experimenting with a new procedure for esophageal strictures. In early October, she called and spoke with Dr. Chick Weisse. An appointment was arranged for Taiga to be seen and evaluated in November. On November 16th, Taiga became the 15th animal, dog and/or cat, in the country to have this new procedure done. We were told that there was a 70% chance for her to end up with a normal esophagus. We were hopeful that Taiga’s life would be improved and our lives as well. After the surgery, my husband and I learned how to inflate the balloon, it takes two people. We had to do this twice a day. These sessions were very hard on me and Taiga, of course! She would cry when we inflated the balloon, even though it only took a couple of minutes. Within a week of the inflations, I was no longer pureeing her food. I could soak it and mash it with a potato masher. Taiga was on several medications during this time, her medications started at 6am, every couple of hours and her last one was at 10pm. Our next appointment with Dr. Weisse was scheduled for Jan 4, 2017, to have the balloon removed. On Dec. 20th, we ran into another problem. The balloon began to leak. We had to rush her down to NYC for emergency surgery. As busy as he was, Dr. Weisse made himself available for Taiga. He told us that he would do an endoscopy and if all looked good he would take the balloon out, if not, he would have to put another one in for the next few weeks. We crossed our
fingers that this would be the last surgery Taiga had to endure. Two hours after dropping her off, Dr. Weisse called me and said I could come pick her up, the balloon was out and things looked good! Taiga was at about 80% normal. We were thrilled with this! She continues to do well to this day. We do, however, keep the muzzle on her when she is our running free for her own protection. We can never take a chance of her eating something she should not eat!

Through all of this, Taiga never got aggressive with anyone. Everyone has commented on her sweet temperament. She was handled by many vets and many vet techs over the 9 months, 5 different veterinary clinics. There was a reason that we went through all of this and if we can help other people and their dogs, we need to share our knowledge and the options available. I feel that Taiga will someday fulfill her purpose.

We cannot thank Dr. Chick Weise and my niece, Dr. Siubhan Bongiovanni, enough for all they did for Taiga. I must also add that Dr. Anna Platt,DVM, Taiga’s breeder, was immensely supportive throughout and still is!

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