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Rescued Dog Sugar Snap Makes Miraculous Recovery


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When Sugar Snap arrived at One Tail at a Time (OTAT) in Chicago, he was near death. At just 19 pounds, Sugar Snap was so emaciated he could barely lift his head. But he quickly won over the entire staff, regained his strength with their help, and was adopted by one of the emergency vet team members who saved his life.

Sugar Snap’s story was recently featured in People. Keep reading to see his miraculous recovery and his Embark results!

Sugar Snap arrives at One Tail at a Time

Sugar Snap arrived at OTAT in critical condition in February 2024, after being found on the side of the road. He was too weak to lift his head, sit up, or stand, and he was ravenously hungry.

A few days into his hospital stay, Sugar Snap took a turn for the worse. He developed sepsis and required blood transfusions, plasma transfusions, numerous medications, feeding tubes, and catheters. The odds were stacked against him, but the staff at OTAT and his emergency veterinary team didn’t give up.

“Sugar Snap is the best boy and has been a fighter throughout all of his time with us in the hospital,” his medical team said. “He still has a twinkle in his eyes that tells us he’s not done nor giving up.”

After three weeks in emergency hospitalization, and a battery of tests and medical treatments, Sugar Snap slowly began to recover. With the help of the staff at OTAT and Premier Veterinary Group, plus support from dog lovers who raised money for his medical bills, Sugar Snap recovered enough to be released to medical foster care. His emergency veterinarian Dr. Becky Ritchie took him home with her.

“We named him Sugar Snap, because he’s just the sweetest little pea,” says the team at OTAT.

Sugar Snap takes an Embark Dog DNA Test

One Tail at a Time used one of their donated Embark Dog DNA Tests to learn more about Sugar Snap. His Embark breed results revealed that he’s a mix of German Shepherd Dog, American Pit Bull Terrier, Labrador Retriever, American Bully, and American Bulldog.

Embark breed results for a dog named Sugar Snap. 27.8% German Shepherd Dog, 24.9% American Pit Bull Terrier, 20.2% Labrador Retriever, 19.6% American Bully, 7.5% American Bulldog.

“We all saw the German Shepherd in him, but thought he was probably a mix of herding breeds,” Dr. Ritchie says. “Now that he’s started gaining weight and muscle, his head looks much more like the other breeds in his lineage. It just goes to show how thin he really was.”

Sugar Snap’s Embark results also predicted his adult weight to be 62 pounds, based on his DNA. When he arrived at OTAT, he was just 19 pounds, and today, he weighs a whopping 52 pounds. Dr. Ritchie expects he will likely continue to gain a little bit of weight.

“The predicted weight for Sugar Snap was so helpful. When he came in at 19 pounds, vets could only really guess what he was supposed to weigh. We didn’t even know if he was a puppy or an adult because his teeth were in such bad shape, likely due to malnourishment. He’s still working on physical therapy and gaining weight and muscle, but he’s looking like he’ll be on track for the 62 pounds or so! Having info on such a mystery of a dog was so extremely insightful.”

—Kim Thomas, Marketing Manager at One Tail at a Time

Sugar Snap’s health results revealed that he has one copy of the genetic variant for ALT, meaning that his baseline ALT level may be low normal. This is not a disease, but it’s a useful clinical tool for Sugar Snap’s veterinarian to know about when monitoring his liver health.

Sugar Snap gets adopted

Sugar Snap captured the hearts of everyone around him—including Dr. Ritchie, the veterinarian who treated him.

At his foster home with Dr. Ritchie, Sugar Snap continued his recovery. He still needed quite a bit of care during those first few weeks, but with time, he became stronger and gained confidence. After a while, he was able to walk longer distances, weaned off his medications, and steadily gained weight. He gained enough strength in his hind legs to hop up on the couch, his coat started to grow back, and he learned how to run and play. His favorite activity was following his foster brother around.


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It’s plain to see how easy it is to fall in love with Sugar Snap. After fostering him, Dr. Ritchie and her partner Dr. Yesesky—who is also a veterinarian—adopted Sugar Snap. He now lives with his dog brother, Fitz, and his cat brother, Noodle.

A dog named Sugar Snap poses for a photo with his new forever family, Dr. Ritchie, Dr. Yesesky, and Fitz.
Sugar Snap with Dr. Ritchie, Dr. Yesesky, and dog brother Fitz. Photo courtesy of One Tail at a Time.

“He has settled into his new home with us, and his full puppy personality is shining through. He keeps life fun! He hasn’t let his past stand in his way and I’m so proud of his resilience. He comes to work with me some days and gets so excited to see all of the nurses who took care of him. Sometimes I can’t believe he’s the same dog I saw in our ER just four months ago.”

–Dr. Becky Ritchie

Sugar Snap sits on a blue couch between his adopters, Dr. Ritchie and Dr. Yesesky, with dog brother Fitz.
Sugar Snap at his adoption party before going home with his new family. Photo courtesy of One Tail at a Time.

We’re so happy that Sugar Snap has found his forever home, and we’re grateful to our partners at One Tail at a Time, who work tirelessly to make sure every dog has their happily ever after.

You can follow Sugar Snap’s adventures on Instagram at @sugarsnapthedog.

Get started with Embark

Join Sugar Snap and millions of dogs like him by testing with Embark, and check out the heartwarming stories of other Embark dogs who found their forever homes:

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Keep reading to learn about how dog DNA testing helps shelter dogs get adopted.

Mimi Padmabandu Contributor

Mimi Padmabandu is a scientific writer and Content Strategy Lead at Embark Veterinary. She has over a decade of experience writing about science and genomics for leading biotechnology companies. She holds a bachelor's degree in Molecular, Cell, and Developmental Biology from UCLA and a master’s degree in Early Modern English Literature from King’s College London.

Read more about Mimi Padmabandu

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