Story of a True Princess
by her foster Mom, Laurie
upon a time there was a beautiful princess German Shepherd named Trixie. She
had a lovely face, black and silver hair and the sweetest temperament. She
lived alone with an elderly man and took such good care of him for seven
years. She stayed close and learned to move gently and never get in his
way. She brought joy to his life and she thrived in his love for her.
for reasons unknown, she did not receive her heartworm medication and an
evil mosquito bit her and brought that harmful disease. No one noticed and
she never complained. She lived each day, as a good German Shepherd should,
loving her person and guarding his house.
day, her person died and now she was alone. His family loved the little
princess but could not take her home, nor bear to place her in a shelter.
Because she had severe hip dysplasia, they knew she would be put to sleep.
So for 9 months, the family left her in the house alone, coming to feed and
let her outside. She grieved alone and gradually withdrew into herself. The
family called GSRNE and they agreed to help her.
rescue person’s who went to get her had never seen such a sweet but sad
little dog. There was no life in those dark eyes, no joy, no wagging tail.
wonderful ladies gave her love and comforted her.
she came to her foster home where an older lady with a cane and an older
German Shepherd gentleman lived. They were so sad when they saw her and
worked to show her that the world could be a wonderful place again.
Gradually she started to eat and found a tennis ball. It was fun to chase
it in the house.
could even take toys away from her fur pal. Gradually the light came back
into her eyes, the bounce in her step and she began to talk. She woofed, and
barked and howled and yowled and her foster mom talked back. Soon they were
lip licking and yawning together (dog calming signals) Every morning when
they got up, there would be a morning “talking” session to start the day and
one before retiring at night, along with constant chats during the day.
When the 10 month old grandson came over each week, she tried her calming
techniques on him when he cried to no avail. But wet kisses to the face
always worked. Children in the neighborhood came over to visit her and pat
her gentle head.
Trixie was sore getting around and they suspected it was her hips. GSRNE
decided to help her with her hip problems and off they went to Angell
Memorial Hospital to see the bone doctor. Not such good news. She would
need an operation to replace one of those hips. But one night after climbing
the stairs, our little princess fainted and fell to the ground. More
episodes followed. So GSRNE took her to Tufts to see what was happening to
her. After many tests, Trixie was found to have heartworm, pulmonary
hypertension and heart problems caused by the heartworm. The doctors treated
her for the heartworm and kept telling us that she was one of the sweetest
dogs that they had ever treated.
day she had to go in for her second treatment, she started holding up her
hind leg and whining in pain. Back at the hospital, they found that she had
clots in her lungs and maybe something wrong in her spine.
foster mom brought her home with pain medication but she wouldn’t eat, not
even homemade soup or steak tips. She had to be lifted up and helped to
walk. She became a sad little dog again. No fairy godmother, nor foster
mom’s love could make her better. Because we loved her so much, we let her
cross the Rainbow Bridge. Now she runs with the Angels. Fly, Trixie, fly!
Announcement of the loss of Trixie
It is with heavy hearts that we tell you Trixie’s story.
Trixie's fight with what turned out to be multiple health issues was quite a
struggle. That she remained the sweetest of dogs throughout her ordeal is a
strong testament to what a wonderful girl she was.
While in foster care, GSRNE discovered
that Trixie had severe
degenerative hip dysplasia in both hips. The sockets in her pelvis were
deep and narrow. Her femur heads (the balls on the end of the leg that
go into the hips) fit loosely in her hip sockets. Over time
the bone would have thickened causing arthritic changes. When Trixie was seen by an
orthopedic surgeon at Angel Memorial her only option was total hip replacement
because both her femur heads and hip sockets showed severe deterioration.
This is very expensive and like most rescues, GSRNE has limited funds.
Because Trixie was such a wonderful, sweet girl, we decided to go ahead, so
scheduled surgery to take care of this problem. We
knew we could count on our supporters to rally around Trixie to help her if
Before we could proceed with the hip
started collapsing while
doing mild exertion like steps or walking to the front door to greet
visitors. She was immediately taken to
the vet for an exam, where
a blood test showed high glucose levels consistent with diabetes. This could
have explained her fainting. There are many reasons for increased glucose
levels in the blood: stress, recent meal, tumor on the pancreas. We wanted
to rule out a possible tumor on her pancreas. Her next vet visit was
for an ultrasound of her abdomen, and chest x-rays to show her heart.
She had no masses on her pancreas, but the chest x-ray showed severe
Hypertension (pressure in the lungs). This stress could have elevated
her blood glucose levels.
Pulmonary Hypertension is usually caused by heartworm disease.
This was particularly devastating since heartworm is a preventable disease.
At intake we tested Trixie
for heartworm with the snap antigen test in addition to a blood smear to
look for microfilaria (baby heartworms). She was negative on both of those
tests, and put on heartworm prevention. We didn’t suspect heartworm, but
decided to take her to a cardiac specialist at Tufts. They did an ultrasound
on her heart which revealed adult heart worms and another heartworm antigen
test which tested positive. The second heartworm test was 6 months after
caveat in heartworm testing is it takes 6 months for the larvae transmitted
by the mosquito to
grow into an adult heartworm that can be detected by the antigen test. Once
the larvae mature to an adult heartworm it produces antigens, which is pick
up by the routine test. Also when a heartworm is fully matured it produces
microfilaria, which can be detected on lab test. But in between the
mosquito transmitting the larvae to the dog and the cycles the larvae goes
through to become an adult heartworm, there is no test the will detect the
disease. The maturation from larvae to adult worm is at least 6 – 7
months. That being said it is still important to put a dog on monthly
heartworm prevention to kill larvae in the early stages to avoid further
infections. If a dog has no previous medical history, it should be tested
every six months and kept on heartworm prevention. After two consecutive
negative heartworm tests only a yearly test is necessary. Either way a dog
should be on monthly heartworm prevention year round in most parts of the
US. Heartworm preventatives block the early stages of larvae development.
addition to heartworms the ultrasound of Trixie’s heart revealed chronic
valvular disease. Her heart valves where leaky. This can be caused by
heart disease or chronic heartworm disease. Luckily Trixie had a small worm
load making a positive response to heartworm treatment probable. In any dog
there is always a risk of complications, either a reaction to the medication
used or a blood clot in the lung from the dying worms. Trixie responded
well to the first treatment and was scheduled to go back for a second
treatment. When Trixie went in for her second heartworm treatment, her
foster mom noticed her limping, and obviously in pain. We x-rayed her one
hip during the visit which didn’t show anything and confirmed that the hip
was not dislocated. We thought maybe she slipped and had inflammation that
would resolve in a few days. She was put on pain medication. During the
same visit a heart ultrasound revealed that all adult heartworms where
gone! She didn’t need a second treatment. Unfortunately the test also
revealed her Pulmonary Hypertension (PH) increased suggesting a blood clot in her lung. Trixie was
scheduled again for more testing to confirm a blood clot. If the results
were anything other than a blood clot the only course of treatment would be
a very expensive drug that would only relieve her symptoms, but her PH would
be grave. A Profusion Scan of her lungs was performed by injecting a
radioactive substance into her lungs and scanning for abnormalities. The
results of the Profusion Scan were grossly abnormal suggesting a blood
clot. Dogs are good at resolving blood clots on their own, so the only
course of action was to put her on Aspirin twice a day to prevent additional
blood clots. Once the blood clots were resolved the Pulmonary
Hypertension should go down, but
probably not to a normal level. That was fine since Trixie mostly loved
hanging out around the house, and didn’t require much exercise. A secondary
treatment would be heart medication to help with her leaky heart valves.
She was released from Tufts.
weekend she was released, her left leg became increasing painful, and her
right leg couldn’t support her weight. Even on pain medication she would
yelp whenever she tried to get up and walk. When lying down next to her
foster mom, she would whimper in pain. She didn’t want to eat, and couldn’t
walk outside to relieve herself. Her foster mom covered her breezeway with
plastic garbage bags and towels, so Trixie could relieve herself with out
walking far. Her foster mom would then clean her up so the urine wouldn’t
burn her skin. After the weekend she was admitted into the emergency room
where the doctors suspected neurological damage in her hind end that would
not get better. She could stay on heavy pain medication, but probably
wouldn’t walk again. The heartbreaking decision was made to euthanize
Trixie to put her
out of her pain.
We in GSRNE are incredibly sad about this tragic loss. Trixie had
adopters waiting to take her into their home and their hearts; she had a
foster mother who adored her, as well as many fans within the organization.
She had taken some very hard knocks in life before coming into GSRNE; and,
yet, she always saw the goodness in human beings and was willing to trust
again. We’re grateful that her last months were in a home where she
knew that people loved her very much…where her kind and generous spirit was
able to blossom and be treasured.
The GSRNE Board of Directors