A Dog Named Stella
By Jackie Patterson
Stella was favorably evaluated in Springfield, OR for entry into CBRR&R on March 3, 2020. Stella was a 9-year-old spayed female born on April 20, 2011. She was living in a large apartment complex with her owner who, due to financial reasons, had to move out of his apartment into another which would not allow dogs. Stella, a light dead grass Chessie mix, was adopted in September 2018 after her owner saw her on the shelter’s regularly featured spot the on the local TV station. Sadly, Stella had had most of her teeth removed due to gingivitis while at the shelter but appeared to be healthy otherwise. Stella, while not actually a service dog, helped her owner overcome his anxiety by being with him in a public setting. He reported that she was well behaved and able to stay in the apartment for long periods of time without getting into anything and seldom barked. She loved people but didn’t have a lot of interest in other dogs or toys. During her evaluation, she walked nicely on a leash, seemed to enjoy her walk, and was very interested in her surroundings. She was quite polite, taking cheese treats gently, but checking in with her owner to see that it was ok! While she had not received much in the way of training, she would routinely sit when asked and appeared to be alert and engaged. Other than the information gained from her owner and during the evaluation, little was known of Stella’s early years. It was a big plus that she had the Elvis-style Chessie grin!
After evaluation, CBRR&R determined that the very best home for Stella was to be with DJ, in Casper WY! A transport scheduling challenge for sure, but Lisa Bernardez worked up the complicated schedule which included Stella’s first overnight in North Bend, OR; her second night at the Northwest Pet Resort in Coeur d’Alene, ID, and her third in Billings, Montana. A multitude of tranporters were involved in this 3-day journey. On Saturday, March 14th, Jackie picked Stella and her things up and took Stella to Santa Clara Animal Hospital who offered a free exam for our rescue girl. Stella rode well in the car but needed help with her hind end getting into the car. She weighed 51.9 pounds and the vet said that while she was a little thin, he preferred that over being overweight especially since she had a little muscle loss in her hips. Heart and lungs were sound. She does have a little arthritis, but that is reasonable given her age. Stella behaved very well at the vet and in the car going to meet her next transport to begin her very long three-day trip to Wyoming.
Scott, Sylvia and Bill, and Johnny got Stella to North Bend where she overnighted with Claire. On day 2 of Stella’s long journey, Mark, Jim and Deb, and Nancy got her to Northwest Pet Resort in Coeur d’Alene where they were all prepped by Lisa to care for Stella overnight. On day 3, Hilary took Stella on to Billings where she was to overnight with Diana and her dog, Little Bit. Stella and LB met unexpectedly when Stella pushed a door open to the room LB was in and the two got along fine. Diana reported that Stella’s temperament was outstanding – very stable, optimistic and willing even given all the changes in her life in the past few days. Diana transported Stella from Billings to Casper and to DJ.
Stella and her luggage on one of the legs of her journey Stella and Little Bit taking time to smell the flowers
DJ followed Stella’s entire journey over the three-day period and got to learn lots about Stella from all the comments made by her transporters. There were even some useful training tips exchanged as the journey continued! Every single one of Stella’s transporters fell in love with her causing one to comment that she just might be a transport failure! As DJ learned more about Stella during the transport, she commented on all the things that she had ready for Stella’s arrival. String cheese for treats – check! Four-inch orthopedic bed – check! Lamb chop toy that squeaks – check!
Just waiting for Stella’s arrival
It seemed like forever, but finally the day came that everyone, especially DJ, had been waiting for. DJ had been a little skeptical when CBRR&R said Stella was a perfect match for her. When DJ first saw her picture, she loved her color, but Stella didn’t have the Chessie eyes. Once she met Stella, that didn’t matter. Stella was exactly what DJ was looking for in another dog and it was love at first sight!
DJ meets Stella for the first time
As with all adoptions, CBRR&R provided guidelines for introducing a dog to a new home and DJ carefully read and heeded the instructions even though she really wanted to show her new girl off to her neighbors! DJ had everything ready for Stella and had even made an appointment for Stella with her veterinarian before Stella arrived. Stella enjoyed exploring her new home both inside and out. As Stella had lived with her previous owner in an apartment, she was not used to being able to go outside without a leash. What a wonderful thing! Stella loved her new yard and her new freedom. In and out; in and out! She even liked running up and down the stairs to the basement.
The next-door neighbor was out getting his mail and said he thought Stella was perfect! DJ loved her color and almost as soon as she got Stella asked, “How long is it before I can adopt her?” DJ reported on Stella’s activities often and provided pictures to show how well Stella was doing. Careful feeding and giving meds prescribed by her vet, Stella started to fill out a bit. She loved running in the snow in her yard. Stella really loved her yard!
DJ paid careful attention to Stella, noting that her hind legs seemed to bother her. A visit to the vet required a few urine samples to check her protein levels and she also had a radiograph done to see about the hips. DJ reported that her vet thought that Stella was a real gem. Another thing that DJ was concerned about was that she had never heard Stella bark. We felt that may have been because she lived in an apartment and was possibly taught to be quiet and not bark, but DJ wanted to see if they could tell her if she had been debarked. The urinalyses showed that Stella was borderline proteinuric. The radiographs of Stella indicated that she had a small amount of arthritis between lumbar L1 and L2 vertebrae. Happily, all her other joints looked good. The urinalysis tests eventually showed improvement possibly from the new diet Stella was on.
Stella loved being petted and would let DJ know that it wasn’t ok to stop! As Stella became more comfortable in her surroundings, she would enjoy her walks as well as being out in her yard. She enjoyed exploring wherever she went. She started to fill out and looked really good.
In mid-June, DJ took Stella to the Vet as she was tilting her head to the right and was not coordinated when she walked. Her vet thought possibly Horner’s Syndrome or Vestibular Disease. After a few days of ear drops and other meds, it appeared that Stella was getting better. Her head was straighter, and she was more alert and wanted to be outside. One day, a woman walked by with a large brindle dog when DJ and Stella were out on the porch. Stella can bark!! Not the bark of the little petite girl she is, but a really base gruff voice! Finally solved that problem!
By late June, at her follow up vet appointment, it was found that Stella had other symptoms not related to the ear problem. See Stella’s Last Journey for the end of the story of this much-loved girl.