Wednesday, April 15, 2015


The Story of Princess
10/2/04 - 4/14/15

We didn’t get Princess until she was three years old.  Her previous person was a good owner.  From what we were told, he took very good care of her.  He took her to the vet’s for all of her shots and even got her vaccinated for things most people don’t bother with.  Their lives were good the first couple of years.  The last year that her owner had her, he lost his job and then his home.  They then lived in her owner’s pick-up truck for the next year.  Then the truck broke down and he would leave her in it while he looked for work.  He became afraid that his truck would get towed with Princess in it.  Her owner then made
the decision to give her up for adoption.  I am sure it was an extremely difficult decision for him to make, but I will be forever thankful that he made that decision.

We had just lost our previous dog, Molly, who was also a great dog.  We had decided not to get another dog, but that decision did not last very long. I knew I would never replace her, but needed some help filling the empty hole in my heart. Soon we started going to the pet stores that were hosting local adoptions and each time we walked out without a dog. We had some friends that were involved in local animal rescues and called them.  They told us that they had just gotten a dog to foster the day before and they thought we might be interested in her.  That was on a Saturday and they brought her to meet us on Sunday.  It was a warm October day and we sat on our deck and got to know each other. We were told she was a Shepard/Chow mix.  She had a purple tongue and a cute, curled tail. We discovered she could sit, speak, shake, roll over and high five.  She had been well trained. The only odd behavior was that she turned in small circles.  A lot of small circles.  Almost like spinning. We thought this might be from living in a truck for a year and she circled back and forth in the truck. She explored our yard and melted our hearts.  We adopted her that day and she never left.

Over the next couple of days, we decided that Princess wasn’t the name she should have.  Maybe Princess was a good name for a smaller dog, but we thought she should have a different name.  Nick, Erin and I decided we would each write three names on a piece of paper and put them in a paper bag and go with the first name we drew out.  I can’t remember the names now, but none of them fit this dog, so Princess she stayed.  We had many nicknames for her.  P, P Dog, Peabody, P Doggit, Peebee, Princess P, Sweet Pea, Curly Tail and a few more.  She answered to all of them.

Soon after getting her we learned that we could walk without a leash.  We would take Princes to the golf course behind our house and let her run.  She would run like the wind.  She would run around the green and then run back to us at break neck sped.  It we came upon golfers, we would tell her to walk with us and she would walk right by our sides.  When it was all clear, we would tell her to run like the wind and off she would go.  Running ahead and then running back to us. 

We also discovered that she was a good car rider.  She would sit in the passenger seat and put her leg on the arm rest just like a person would put their arm.  She also knew how to lean into the turns when we made them.  We had never had a dog that was such a good rider.  This was probably from her life with her previous owner.

And then there were the circles.  She continued to do her circles.  Circles when she greeted us at the door.  Circles before going out.  Circles when leaving the vet’s.  Circles when going for a walk.  We saw that they were only right turn circles, never to the left.  One day we noticed that she did left turn circles before going to the bathroom.  We laughed and said if we saw her starting to do left hand circles we needed to get her out of the house because she needed to go to the bathroom.  The people at the vet’s office said we should have named her Spinner.  A lot of the circling did improve over the years, but she never stopped completely.  It was just another of the things that make her so unique to us.

Princess also slept with us.  Thankfully, we have a king size bed, because she slept stretched out behind my back.  If I was crowding her, I would feel a bump against my back, telling me to move over.

After having her for a couple of years, I thought she wasn’t acting right.  We took her to the vet’s and they did blood work and everything was fine. After a couple of more weeks, I told Nick that this dog is dying.  We took her back to the vet’s and they ran more tests.  We found out that she had Addison’s disease.  It is a disease of the adrenal glands.  They stop producing cortisol which is needed to handle stress.  Without treatment, they die. Princess was started on lifelong monthly injections and prednisone.  The Addison’s was well controlled to the end. This was the first of many times, that I could tell that Princess was sick, before the blood work did.  I don’t know why I could tell almost instantly that things were not right when this dog was sick, but I could.  This was the first of those times.  After this happening a few times, our vet always believed me, when I told her that Princess was sick.

For some reason, after getting Addison’s, Princess wouldn’t sleep with us anymore.  She would jump up in the bed and let us rub her for a few minutes and then jump down to sleep at the foot of our bed.  Every once in a while, she would jump up in the middle of the night and lay down behind me and I would feel those little bumps, but not often.  I slept better, but I missed the bumps. 

Over the next few years, our lives go on.  We added Jesse the cat to our family and a couple of years later, we get Neely, who was my sister’s dog.  It took some work, but they all finally became buddies.  I will tell you that Jessie the cat was the Alpha dog in our house.  It was funny watching two 50 pounds dogs come in from outside and back away from the cat if she was blocking their way.  I don’t know why they were afraid of Jesse.  She would occasionally swat at them when they walked by, but not often.  She was always rubbing up against their heads when they were lying down and I know it had to be annoying to them, but they were always patience with Jessie.

About a year and a half age, I again thought that something was wrong with Princess.  Again we had blood work done and all the results were good.  She slowed done on eating and then totally stopped eating.  More blood work and this time it showed she had elevated liver enzymes.  We put her on medicine and different food and then she was fine again.

Over the last year, she would come and stare at me.  I would check to see if she needed to go out, but that wasn’t it. I would give her a head rub and she would continue to stare at me.  She did this many, many times.  I couldn’t figure out what she was trying to tell me.  I now think she was trying to tell me something wasn’t right. This is the one time, I missed having the feeling she was sick.  Also at this time, we were reducing her medication for the Addison’s disease.  She was having her blood checked every two weeks and everything was good.  We were able to reduce her medicine for the Addison’s by 30 percent.  There was a twofold reason for doing this.  The first was the less medicine for the Addison’s disease was a better thing for Princess.  The second was the cost savings for us.  It was saving us about $35 a month.

About two months ago, I again had the feeling that Princess was sick.  Again, I can’t tell you what made me feel this way.  Nick thought she was fine.  We took her to the vet’s from more blood work.  Again, everything was fine.  A couple of weeks later she started vomiting after eating and then stopped eating.  More blood work and her liver enzymes were elevated again.  She was started on a couple of different medicines and a different diet again.  After a couple of days, Princess was fine again.  We had her rechecked after a month and the liver enzymes were still a little high, but were coming back down.

I was still getting the stares and by now I just thought it was something she had gotten in the habit of doing. It was just one of her little quirks like the circling.

Two weeks ago, around 2 PM she vomited and was breathing hard.  Since it was a Friday, I wanted to get her in to see the vet.  Our vet was concerned about her rapid heartbeat.  They did a couple of chest x-rays and we could see a mass in her lung.  It had already pushed her heart to the right side of her chest.
Our vet urged us to get her to Michigan State University Animal Hospital right away.  We immediately drove to Lansing and she was admitted.  The initial check of her heart rate showed it had come down.  After taking her back and hooking her up to an EKG machine her heart rate was 350 beats a minutes.  She was suffering from a couple of different heart arrhythmias.  She was put on IV medications for the heart arrhythmias.  Princess stayed at MSU for 5 day while testing was being done.  We were going to have a CT scan done of her chest and abdomen to see if there were more masses.  On the day of the scheduled CT scan the machine was down.  MSU kept calling us with their progress on trying to get it to work.  During this time, Nick and I decided that we were not going to put her through surgery or cancer treatment, so we called them and cancelled the CT scan.

We went the next day to get Princess to bring her home.  The prognosis was if the arrhythmias could be controlled with the medication, it wouldn’t affect her lifespan.  If the mass in her chest was cancer, her prognosis was likely to be less than a year.  We were happy with the prognosis and thought we would have some good quality time left with her.  I guess this was not meant to be.

(On a side note, if you ever want or need emergency care for your pet and live close to Lansing, go to MSU.  They were fantastic.  Two and sometime three phone calls a day giving us status reports on how Princess was doing. We could also call any time for answers to our questions.  I cannot say enough good things about them.)

The first couple of days were pretty good.  A couple of episodes of vomiting, but we were able to control that with medication changes.  The next two days were wonderful.  You would never have known that Princess was sick.  The next day, I had to go out, and when I got back home I could her barking likes she always did.  I walked in the house and she was walking toward me, stopped and looked at me, and then fell over.  They call it a collapse.  She didn’t faint.  She just lay there.  It was over in a minute and she was her normal self again.  We called MSU and they wanted us to get her in for an EKG.  Our vet’s office does not have an EKG machine, so yesterday, I had to drive her 30 minutes across down to another vet’s office.  I had to leave her there for a couple of hours.  She wasn’t looking good on the way home.  I noticed that her gums were pale.  By the time we got home, she could only walk slowly.  I got her in the house and got her to lie down.  Her breathing was rapid again and she was having trouble getting comfortable.  She would move her head from one front paw to the other front paw. It was like she was trying to find a comfortable spot to get more air in.  I called Nick at work and he came home and we talked about whether it was time to make the decision to let her go.  I had read and our vet had told us that dogs are stoic and try to hide their pain.  I also read that tumors could push other organs around and that could cause pain.  We knew that Princess tumor had already pushed her heart out of place.  We also didn’t want to keep coming home and having her collapse from the excitement of seeing us, even though she recovered quickly.  As you know, we decided it was time.

She was happy as we made our last journey together.  She was still leaning into the turns.  Even after we got to our vet’s office, we talked more with her about whether we were making the right decision and with her help, decided we were.  It was time for us to let her go.

All dogs are special and I have loved all the ones that we have had.  But there was something extra special about Princess.  I don’t know if it was because she came into our lives when we really needed her and she really needed us that created that “something” that was extra special about her.  Maybe it was because of her gentle, loving nature.  Maybe it was the invisible bond that she and I had, so I could tell when she was sick. Or maybe it was how she greeted every time we came home after being away.  She would always have to go and find a toy and come to us, whining to be rubbed.  Or how most every night    she would jump upon the couch and lay across Nick’s chest to be rubbed.  She would look over at me and her look would say “Mom, you can rub me too”.  Or maybe it was the pizza look.  That is the only time we ever give our dogs the food we are eating.   She would lean at a 45 degree angle against the footstool in front of me and intently watch me eat.  Her eyes would never leave my face.  She would almost quiver with excitement until I finished so she could have her bites of pizza crust. Or it could have been her smile.  When she panted, she looked like she was smiling.  Maybe it was all of these things and so many more.

Princess, we told you this yesterday, but I want to say it again.  Thank you for all the love, joy and comfort you brought into our lives.  You will be in our hearts forever and a day.