I met Princess in August of 2006 when she came into the vet clinic where I worked as a tech. Her elderly owner complained that Princess had no energy, no appetite, scratched incessantly, could not keep her balance and seemed hopelessly ill. She insisted on having Princess put to sleep. The little dog was an American Eskimo or Spitz Dog, aged about 10 years.
Another tech had done the intake and brought her out back in the clinic to be euthanized. It was obvious the dog was weak. Her gait was wobbly and she could not go far without collapsing and panting for breath. Something told me to pay attention to this animal, she needed help fast.
After taking a good look at her, I could see she was anemic by the color of her gums (nearly white instead of a healthy pink.) A look at her skin under that thick white coat revealed the likely cause. She was coated in dried blood particles, the droppings of hundreds of fleas. The poor thing had the worst flea infestation I had ever seen in an animal. And I’ve witnessed some pretty serious flea problems.
I was determined to give this little dog a chance. Before anyone could administer the sedative shot prior to euthanasia, I told my boss I wanted to adopt the dog. A quick call to the owner sealed the deal, Princess was mine.
First, I put her in a kennel on a white towel and gave her a Capstar pill. Capstar kills all the fleas on an animal’s body within a couple hours. Princess lay down to rest in the cage. I went back to check on her in an hour. When she stood, she left behind an outline of her body made entirely of dead fleas. It was amazing!
During my lunchtime, I gave Princess a bath. She loved it. The water pouring off her was blood red. It looked like she was bleeding, but it was just all the dissolved flea excrement rinsing away. That evening I brought her home. What a surprise for my husband and our two German Shepherds!
I had some concerns about how an aging, unknown dog would blend into our household. What I knew of her bio was that she had lived with the old woman her whole life, an only pet who stayed in the house except to potty, was never even given walks outside.
Now she had come to a farm where dogs spend most of the day loose outdoors. We had several house cats and free roaming chickens and a bunch of angora rabbits. No need to worry. Within minutes it was as though she had always lived with us. The two big dogs loved her and she liked them. She ignored the cats, rabbits and chickens.
At first she panted like a steam engine with the slightest exertion, a result, no doubt, of her exercise-free prior lifestyle and the anemia. Slowly, she regained her blood volume and developed farm dog stamina. She went everywhere, following the big dogs. There was a frequent smile on her face, as in the top photo. Princess loved her life with us.
Her hearing was not great when I got her, and it rapidly declined until she was nearly deaf. We learned to communicate with her using hand signals. My husband nicknamed her Pita (for Pain In The A**) because she would frequently get in his way due to her inability to hear him approaching. One day he even had to stop the tractor and get off to move her. She could not hear the approach of the loud vehicle as it came to a stop right above her. It was funny, in a scary way.
Princess wasn’t fazed by hearing loss. She romped with abandon. Her favorite time was maple syrup season. She was a snow dog and adored everything about being outside in the cold. The last two years of her life I suspect were her best. She lived at full speed right up until her hips began to fail and she finally became completely incontinent. She was laid to rest in the pet cemetery at our farm along side our other dear departed.