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Mayfield makes chair for special-needs dog

Scott Mayfield builds homemade chair to help his special-needs dog, Odis, eat

by Cory Wright WrightsWay / New York Islanders

At first glance, there doesn't seem to be anything different about Scott Mayfield's two-year-old golden doodle, Odis. He's friendly, with a ton of energy, likes his walks and perks up when he hears people walking towards the front door. 

But while other dogs double as vacuums when food falls on the floor, Odis needs a seat at the table. 

Mayfield's dog has a condition called Megaesophagus, where his esophagus is too wide to be able to push food down to his stomach. 

"If he doesn't eat standing up and let gravity pull down the food, he can regurgitate and spit food up and have trouble gaining weight," Mayfield said.

Odis needs an assist from gravity, so he has to eat upright and then stay that way for about 20-30 minutes. It's unrealistic for Mayfield, his girlfriend Emily Bayless, or anyone to devote an hour a day to keeping Odis up on his hind legs, so they needed a permanent solution. 

"People feed them on stairs, on countertops and when he was a puppy I would hold him on the stairs and I could control him a little bit more," Mayfield said. "Well now he's 60 pounds and a pretty big dog, so we needed to make this high chair."

Video: Meet Odis, Scott Mayfield's special-needs dog

The high chair is otherwise known as a Bailey Chair. It's a simple design, a box with three sides to keep Odis contained and with an adjustable attachment on the fourth side, a de facto table for the dog to rest his paws and keep upright. Odis starts with the table higher up when he's eating and they lower it shortly after, still keeping him inclined, but not bolt upright for the next 20-30 minutes while he digests. 

"I don't think he knows anything different, we got him when he was eight weeks old and we've had to feed him this way ever since," Mayfield said. "He gets in [the chair] kind of himself."

In true Mayfield family fashion, Odis' chair is homemade and was a family product. It's a fine piece of handiwork, complete with brown leather upholstery lining the interior to make it comfortable for Mayfield's special needs dog. 

Scott and his father Andy built the two chairs in Andy's workshop in Larkspur, while the leather upholstery was Jane's - Scott's mom - contribution. Scott also stained it, a finishing touch on what was, like so many other projects, a family affair. 

"We've had other projects together, but that was his deal," Andy Mayfield said. "He wanted to build one, he took the measurements from his old chair, we went out and bought the materials and cut them up in the woodshed here at my house. It was fun."

As far as anyone can tell, Odis likes his chair. He knows the routine so when Mayfield soaks his food - a mix of kibble and wet food which gives it some more weight and density to help the dog digest it - he eagerly hops into the chair, paws out to the side, while they insert the table. It's not uncommon for him to fall asleep in the chair after he eats. When Scott's away, Emily is the primary caregiver and when they're in Colorado, Andy and Jane - who have three dogs of their own - help out too. It's a lot of work, but it's a labor of love. 

"He's a bit of a high-maintenance dog, but he's a good boy," Mayfield said. 

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