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I was born in PA, on a farm, and sold out of the back of a pickup, in a grocery store lot, with AKC papers, at 8 weeks of age for $1200.

I was a gorgeous, fluffy puppy. Probably looked like my parents, but who would know? Beauty being only skin deep, it wasn’t long before the not-so-good parts of my genetics caused me some problems.

I heard the veterinarian say the spots on my head were from a mite called Demodex canis.  The veterinarian had something to help but my owners had spent all their money buying me.

Several weeks passed and the spots grew and grew and grew. I started losing my hair so my owners asked around and were told that Adams Flea Spray would kill my mites. More weeks passed, more hair lost. I started getting itchy and lost more hair, got more itchy….you get the picture. And, man, did that flea spray hurt so I made darn sure they had trouble getting near me with it!

Finally, they took me to the vet again. At least this time my owners got a pill that was okay and a cone  for my head that was okay too – I couldn’t bite myself but I could bite people feet and chase the cat! The baths she wanted me to get – they hurt too much and I said no way!

Several more weeks passed. I was 7 months old, my skin was raw and bleeding, my feet were very swollen and my face was all puffy. I tried to be happy but was having a very hard time of it.  I didn’t want anyone to touch me and cried when they did. Back to the vet I went.  This time they left me there – I learned later I had a close call with death but my MOM said they would try to make me better!


I lived in a big cage for many, many weeks. I had to take lots n’ lots of pills. I fell asleep  lots of times only to wake up wet and confused. I threw up, drooled ALL the time and it hurt to walk. But I liked everyone who came to see me, bathe me and check on me.

Then one day my hair started coming back. My face got comfortable, I took baths and didn’t want to bite anymore. My tummy ache went away, and my MOM found a food I really liked. I had to wear boots but walking in the grass and going to school was fun (you get treats!). And then one day I started feeling even better, got rid of the cone and boots, and got off all the pills. I have my own bed, and a big yard with Jolly Balls and Frisbees, and I get yummy treats from GoodReasons. I go on lots of hikes where I run in creeks and mud puddles, meet new people (I still want to bite people feet but my MOM says NO), and even go out to dinner where everyone says I’m so handsome and give me more treats!  I know I am one lucky dog, but my MOM says they’re the lucky ones.

Dex was diagnosed with Demodex at 5 months of age and surrendered to me at 7 months of age. He was a bleeding, raw, hot mess: very difficult to handle, painful, lame, inappetant. And yet loving, bold and fairly trusting. Along with the demodex, he was cryptorchid, had retained incisors and canines, and has terrible hip dysplasia. He was incredibly mouthy with zero impulse control when it came to biting hands and feet – in play, but always drawing blood. In the 5 months it took him to heal he was on Ivermectin, Convenia (oral antibiotics not tolerated), Rimadyl, Dasuquin, and daily bathing (requiring sedation) that reduced down over time to weekly. We decorated his e-collar as a personalized accessory!

The pododermatitis was the most recalcitrant part of his journey and did not fully heal for a year. Our second year together, he required Advantix Plus II for demodex control, and Tylan Powder and B12 injections while his GI tract healed. He’s now 4 years old, still mouthy when greeting , VERY outgoing, loves people, dislikes most dogs, will chase cats and joggers (bad dog), has learned to love swimming (those hips…), can’t judge distance well (Ivermectin affects the optic nerve – leaving some dogs blind) and had a TPLO. He has had essential hematuria for three months as I write this. It took everything I learned over 30 years – medically and behaviorally -  as an LVT to bring him back from “lost cause”. It all came together in one magnificent animal. I don’t blame his ignorant owners – I blame puppy mills. I have great respect for all the professionals in my life who helped me achieve this life saving event. I can’t afford to replace his hips (my next pet will have health insurance). Dex lives on Dasuquin, Free Form Snip Tips, Blue Buffalo Fish/Sweet Potato (he has a food aversion to chicken or beef dog foods), and GoodReasons treats - he is our spoiled rotten everything!


So, when you get down and wonder why you do this, remember Dex. He knows that we’re special.

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