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We'd like you to meet Fraulein Maria!

Here is her story...

If you're a NEW friend, start at the top. If you've been following her story,
scroll down to read about great news July 2009!
Please read all the way to the bottom and look for updates about
what finally made Maria feel all better!

This page is the story about a little miniature Dachshund chihuahua mix that came into our life. She was rescued from Mary Esther, Florida, when she was found in the woods, only to be brought to a shelter and rescued from the room where they move the dogs that will be put to sleep. When we got her, she had a severe case of genetic noncontagious mange and was believed to be about 3-5 months old.

As you scroll down this page and read her story, you'll see photos of her transformation and her new life full of love and all good things. Please read about our Maria.

Annie And Maria July 2009

While these pictures might make you sad, please know that this is the beginning of a love story! This dog is precious! So sweet and gentle but already showing signs of spunk! Please come back and see more pictures of her as she grows and becomes even more beautiful. Thank you, Kat, for sending out that email! And thank you Terri for everything you did to bring us this little baby dog. She came to live with us on Ken's birthday, August 21, 2008.

She is truly our
Little Gift!
Introducing... Maria


Thursday, August 21, 2008

Ken and Maria Mariaspacer

It is obvious she hasn't eaten in a long time and only weighs 4.7 pounds.
She will be getting daily medicine and medicated baths to clear up her skin. She sure loves her new Dad and our daughter Elizabeth!

Maria Thenspacer

First Photo

This photo (last one above) is the first picture we ever saw of her in the email.
I know, pitiful ...you just have to trust us! This was how our little Papillon, Angel,
looked when she came out of the woods and she lived to be twenty!

Remember ~ Don't be sad! She's feeling better today!



She's got a long way to go, but she's a trooper!! The best way to describe her is she looks like a tiny baby dinosaur that just wants you to hold her. One of the characteristics of this mange is a temperature. This poor baby is burning up and when you touch her skin, it just feels like it will rip. Poor thing! Wait till you see how much better she looks after only
ONE WEEK! Keep reading! :-)


One of her favorite places is her soft "bucket" with her blanket. She also sleeps in a clothes basket with other favorite blankets right next to Annie. I found one place on her little head that feels a little soft and oh my GOSH she loves me to rub that with my finger. See the brown fur above her right eye? That's the spot. In fact, I feel an overwhelming need to go pick her up. I'll post more soon.

Friday, August 22, 2008


Even with our home renovation going on, she walks right past the workers and she already knows "let's go outside" and "Okay, ready to go in the house?"

She's eating canned dogfood (tiny bits at a time), fresh sliced turkey from her Aunt Kat, and she loves drinking water!

Her first night here she woke us up at 11 p.m., but then slept through the night! Scroll down to see the latest progress.

Come back and visit as I eat and grow! We go back to see Dr. Hall at East Hill Animal Hospital in one week! Thank you Dr. Hall!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

As I'm typing this update, I wish my arms were about 9 inches longer...I have a 10-lb Papillon sprawled on my lap toward my knees and a 4.7-lb mini dachshund snuggled between her rear and my belly! Getting kind of warm but I'm just loving seeing the two pups more comfortable with each other and so close together. The first day Annie kept a safe distance.

Here's a photo from last night of Annie, our Papillon, laying on a pile of pillows while Maria slept soundly with her soft blanket and orange bear baby. I don't know how Annie thought she could hide with ears like that...!



Maria is really doing well today. She has many places where she has a soft place to stop (you know, one by the water bowl, one in my office, one in the bathroom, one on our daughter's lap). She is still in SURVIVOR mode!

Although she's eating, she would inhale her food in one breath if I let her, so I space her food out in small portions throughout the day. She's drinking plenty of water and we're taking her out often. She goes right to the bathroom every time. Her urine is almost clear now which means she is getting lots of clean fluids to help her heal. That will help her skin, too.

Here is a picture of our daughter, Elizabeth, while Maria rubs her face all over Elizabeth's jeans. No doubt all that dry skin itches! Surprise, surprise - there's a phone coming out of my teenager's ear!


Sunday, August 24, 2008

We had another really good night with Maria and today she was doing funny things like chewing on my fingers and chasing a little ball (one of our favorite "Merlin" balls from Hawaii). She is definitely developing a personality and it is all puppy!

You can see in this picture how her loose skin just hangs all over, but it's amazing how much she's already filling out. Today was the first day she actually left food in her bowl. Check out her little brown mane in the next picture. She has a little line of fur that is growing down the middle of her back.


When we pick her up it's like she hardly weighs anything...picture a scant 5-lb bag of sugar.


Here are some fun pictures from our day...she was really being silly while we were playing on the chair! She was barking, growling, flipping around and Annie thought it was very unlady-like.

Maria Maria



It's hard to tell but it looks like her fur is starting to come in a little somewhat. I think her daily brushing with a soft baby brush is helping to remove the dead flaky skin so there's more focus on the fur! There is still quite a bit of the dry stuff on her face (the light stuff around her mouth). My sister says it's almost like she was in the woods so long moss started growing on her. It really does feel similar to that.

So sometimes we call her Mossy Maria.



Here are some shots of Maria when we went outside after her first tropical storm, Fay. I think the rain reminds her of bad memories of time alone in the woods...so she stayed right near our feet today. She's doing great! Thanks for stopping by to check up on how she's doing. I'll post more photos in the next few days.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Oh boy! Maria got her bath yesterday and I swear, it was like putting a cat in a toilet. She may be tiny but when she saw that water, her four legs went straight out sideways and she was not about to get moist. Thank goodness I had that water all nice and warm and the towel was nearby. I know I was able to keep the suds on her the required 5 minutes but it wasn't near the 10 minute maximum. Boy, she was not happy with me!

I do want to point out--this was not a DIP for mange--but a special shampoo that is
soothing for her dry skin. The DIP some vets use for this condition is extremely toxic
and I wouldn't use it on my animals. If it's not safe for me--it's not safe for them!

Today she is happy, happy, happy! I made my lunch and came to my office to update her page and I heard a clicking noise. When I came around the corner she was hanging onto the edge of the t.v. tray with her middle fingernail and she had cream cheese all over her nose. And there was nothing on half of my bagel. When I asked her what she was doing she looked behind her and back at me like, "I'm sorry, were you talking to me?"

Happy, happy, happy!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

We are in the middle of a renovation and Maria does not want to miss a single thing going on! I wondered if she'd be afraid of thunder or loud noises but she seems to handle the nail gun and sawing noises just fine.

The first time that compressor fired up she looked at me, but because I didn't look afraid she went right back to sleep.


Here's a picture of Maria on her favorite vantage point (safely on the back of the couch looking over the blocked doorway).

Most of the rescues we have loved for the past twenty years never really played with toys. Or if they did, they'd never bring them to us or "fetch" a ball. Maria just loves to play with toys! She chews, runs after stuffed toys, finds sticks in the yard, and just loves to play. Here's a picture of Maria with her friend Ricky the soft raccoon.

Ricky & Maria

I'm feeling really good everybody! Thanks for watching me grow and get better! I get to see Dr. Hall again tomorrow. I hope she remembers me! I don't look the same as I did last week (mom says that's because I've been very brave and strong). I just might bring Ricky along with me.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Today was Maria's second vet appointment with Dr. Hall and the good doctor said she is doing well. She has really grown, too! She went from 4.7 pounds to a whopping 5.11 pounds!! She got a shot today and she has another appointment in three weeks.


I just wanted to take a moment to say thank you to some very special friends ~ one I've never even met in person! Thank you Nora and Mary Jane for the surprise gift package for Maria. Boy! Were we ever surprised!

The package included two pretty scrunchies for the pups, along with two jeweled bone charms (pink of course) and two adorable stuffed animals. Annie took the pig and Maria took the cow. Of course, Maria ended up with both toys within minutes because she's just like that. :-) Here she is wearing her scrunchy.

Maria Scrunchy

Maria Scrunchy

Here she is with her cow! Thank you for the "headbonks" from Molly in Pensacola and Penny and Mac all the way from Laurel, New York!

Maria & her cow

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Maria has continued to get better and better! It's been a few days since we updated this page because we've been dealing with some weather (Gustav especially). Now that the storm has passed, we can take some new pictures. We're noticing more "brown" when we see Maria's fur continuing to come in and the rough skin disappear. Here are some pictures of Annie and Maria together (with Ricky of course) on the recliner. You'll notice Annie starts out by watching from the corner of her eye--because Maria has a tendency to POUNCE when she least expects it!

Annie And Maria

Annie And Maria

Then they settle down and do very well. Annie used to have the priviledge of getting on our king size bed so she could be "up and away" from puppy teeth, as well as being high on our loveseat. Not anymore! Miss Mossy Head can jump up on anything now. She steals toys, she gnaws on ears, she pounces on Papillon heads and is quite the character!

Annie And Maria

For the first time we've had Annie, she actually played on the bed the other day. Annie started doing "zoomies" jumping on pillows, flipping toys in the air, wagging her tail, and having a good time.

Maria LOVED it and we've seen them playing together more--when they thought we weren't looking. This is quite something for Annie because she is very timid and usually FREAKS when another dog initiates play.

Funny Maria

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Maria's fur is really coming in. I'm hoping these pictures show all the brown! It's mostly coming in on her head, so we call her our little Cocoa Puff!


Here's kisses for Papa Dog! This is Maria with Annie, our Papillon. She is four years old.

Maria, Annie and Ken

So big!

It's hard to tell how big she is, but she's not too big to hold in one hand!


Silly Maria ~ always moving and running and playing with sticks and having fun!

Saturday, September 12, 2008

She had her third medicated bath today. She did a little better than last time. It went much faster because she actually put all four feet in the sink this time. Boy, she does NOT like water! She doesn't know it's the same wet stuff that comes out of a garden hose, though, because she thinks that is funny! Here she is doing one of her favorite things--playing with a stick in the courtyard. Look at all that FURRRRR!


I love it when she really gets into it. She loves playing fetch and brings the ball back to us! The sticks are HERS though, so she never brings those back.


You can tell in this picture that her nose is smoothing out. It was so rough with dry skin and yucky stuff but gentle scrubbing with a facecloth slowly took the last bit off today. Isn't she a pretty girl?


One last funny STICK picture. She was still damp from her bath, so she had to find the only place in the yard with dry sand and a little warm rock to rest her head on while she chewed. Those baths can really tire a puppy out!


Saturday, September 20, 2008

Speaking of tired...

I think morning time is probably our most favorite time! Maria still sleeps very well but she has been waking me up about 2 a.m. to go play outside. Because she's still in the training mode to go potty outside, it's not worth telling her to go back to sleep. When she wakes up in the morning about 6 a.m. she is all warm and cuddly, then it's like a SWITCH is flipped and she remembers there are humans close by that will tickle her and make her feel loved. Here are some cute morning pictures.






waking up

Can you see when the switch gets flipped and she starts to get spun up? In the fourth picture she started to grab a tiny piece of the sheet and looked at me like, "Mom, can I eat this?" I told her, "No" so she started growling at me and flipping all around. Makes you want to be a pet photographer, doesn't it? :-)

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Forty-one days ago...hard to believe that we've had Maria that long! I took a picture of her today from above because there was one picture I never posted when I started this blog because it just made me feel so SAD to see it! It just broke my heart. Remember, she
now looks like the TOP photo with all the brown fur!

I thought if I showed everyone the second picture, people would wonder what we were
thinking by taking this poor little dog!!
If someone sees these two pictures today and shares this story--maybe one more person will believe that there is hope for rescue dogs like Maria. The care is not overwhelming...A special bath once a week, a tiny drop of medicine every morning, food and water, and just a lot of love and reassurance. It's as if these little ones know you are there to make them feel better and the love you get back is just the most unbelievable thing...

I wanted you to see how much she has recovered and how far she has come, so I'm posting this photo here today. This first one is what she looked like this afternoon (with her new pretty red collar!)

Maria Now

Maria Before

OKAY! Enough of THAT mushy stuff!!! Here's a funny picture of Maria tugging on a single piece of grass. You might have thought it was made of steel! She was NOT going inside the house until she got that thing out of the ground. Her favorite thing to do now (since we haven't had much rain) is grab the very tip of a piece of St. Augustine grass and rip it out of the ground by the roots. She had one today that was about 2 feet long!

Maria in the Grass

I'm starting to see her little "expression" lines on her forehead and they look so cute!

Maria Sept 30

Right now her coat is so smooth and as beautiful as caramel in the sun. I don't think
she's going to have long hair. Her little feet are chubby and adorable but her little legs
are thinner and not so stubby. She is only 12 inches long from the top of her tail to the
front of her chest, so she's still pretty small. She is only 8 inches tall from her toes to her
shoulder blades.

I was very happy to see that Maria lets me put her on her back in my arms and she will stay like that until I put her down. She sure loves her belly rubbed, but she's quite content with just laying there close to her mama. She has chewed the cape off of her pig, chewed the ear off of her orange bear, and just figured out what a tennis ball is for!

I have never seen a dog crack open an acorn and eat the "good stuff" so fast! She can also peel the bark off an oak tree and eat the tender bark beneath the top layer in a flash! I have no doubt that's how she survived in the woods for so long. I draw the line at bringing worms into the house though!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Here are some cute pictures I took of Maria playing with her bone on our bed. She and Annie are really beginning to play a lot together. Tonight they both came screeching around the corner into the kitchen while I was cooking dinner and they both skidded to a stop and stole each other's bones and took off running in opposite directions! They both thought they had outsmarted the other.

Maria and her bone

Annie and Maria

Maria and her "fur bone" that she squeaks all night long........Annie laying on the bed with Maria.

Maria and her bone

Maria looking pretty smiling for the camera.

I had to take a moment to put some "before" and "after" photos of Maria. These photos were taken on August 21 and October 2, 2008 - Only six weeks apart! She has made a beautiful transformation already!

Read more about her recovery and her first year.


Maria Oct 2

August 21, 2008sp October 2, 2008

Little Maria Secrets You Might Not Know...

pinkShe sleeps in my armpit at night.

greenI kept having to get after Maria for eating little black berries that grow on the
monkey grass in our yard and just today I realized they were roly polies! I felt bad!
Some of you know that if I find a roly poly in my house, I'll carry it outside or put it
in a houseplant so it won't get run over by the vacuum.

purpleSometimes I can't find Maria in the backyard at night because she is so quiet and
blends in with the ground! (The other part of this secret is--she never comes when
I call her which makes the first part of this secret particularly scary at night when I
can't find her and can't hear her.) Maybe she'll come if I offer her a berry?

blueInstead of saying "hurry up" or "finish up" in a sing-song voice like most people
do when they want to get their dogs to hurry up and do their business before
going back in the house--we have to say "No hose" to her because she wants to drink
water out of the garden hose every time she goes out and hasn't learned yet that she
gets the water AFTER she goes potty outside.

yellowWe have to put a doggy gate up to our bedroom during the day now because
one day three weeks ago she left a small present for daddy on his side of the bed.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

It's not easy to get a picture of Annie & Maria playing, but I managed to get this shot while they were playing in the hall--they were running into walls, ears were flying, and legs were off the ground! I asked them, "Isn't it great to be a dog?"

Annie and Maria

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Many of you know that along with doing photography and art, I am also a voiceover artist and do much of my recordings in my home. I have taken a break over the past six months but have begun a project for a Navy College. I wasn't sure how it would work with a new PUPPY in the house but I think Maria has finally figured out what to do now! Yay!

The first time she saw me in the middle of my office standing still in front of a microphone--it didn't go very well. Mom is standing still, obviously waiting for me to come play with her!

(Add the sound of a puppy running into the mic stand and voice artist gently begging puppy to stop)

(Add fun sound of puppy chewing on friend Ricky the Raccoon for full 30 seconds--SQUEAK! SQUEAK! SQUEAK!)

(Add lots and lots of squeaking raccoons and playful puppy romping along with firmer word for puppy to stop)

(Add background noise of puppy waking up a quiet dog with growling, gnashing teeth, playful nipping and toys hitting the ceiling)

Thursday, October 16, 2008

I had to add more adorable photos of morning time! This is her one-eared friend, Orange Bear.

orange bear

orange bear

orange bear

orange bear

orange bear

orange bear

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Watching Maria grow and heal after her tough start in life, has been so rewarding for all of us! She is so happy to see our daughter, Elizabeth, when she comes home from work and school. She is the most playful dog we've ever had and it is fun to watch her do everything. She makes EATING funny. She is SO good on so many levels and can be SO trying on others.

I shared Maria' page with a couple of Dachshund rescue groups because I know it's neat to read about your favorite breed recovering and healing in the midst of sad stories about mistreated animals. Karen B. from Dixie Dachshund Rescue in Alabama and the Southeastern U.S. described Maria exactly!

Besides recommending the book "Dachshunds for Dummies," she said, "They are bolters, diggers, and extremely prey driven." She was right on the money!!! But she also said, "...And lovable as all get out."

1) She absolutely BOLTS when I want her in the house and she wants to stay out.  

2) She digs everything including the leather sofa in the livingroom, the tiny delicate cactus plants in my garden and the back of our LEGS when she's happy to see us and wants to be picked up.

3) She loves to chase things. I swear she can almost climb a tree chasing a squirrel. Thank goodness there are no low branches or she'd try to fly!

4) And last but not least...she's so lovable!

For about the past month or so, we wondered if she might be "part something else besides Dachshund..." and we believe we are right! She's a jumper and extremely smart--so she could possibly be part Jack Russell or something like that. Well, I think we found the PART that isn't Dachshund!

At least this makes it easier to find her in the DARK--because that white spot is always WAGGING! I thought she got too close to the drywall mud and I wondered why I couldn't get the stuff off!

Isn't she CUTE???



Friday, October 24, 2008

Annie & Maria

Annie and Maria both seem to like the new blue pillow we got for the couch. They stretch out together just like old pals. When I see this picture, I want to go find the little Cocoa Puff because that tummy is SOOOOOOO soft! I just want to go catch her and rub it! :-)

Maria finally finished her last drop of medicine. Whoohoo!!! She was so funny about that every morning! I had to measure it to the little ".07" on this tiny syringe that took a MAGNIFYING glass to see...but Maria looked forward to that little drop every morning. I'd let her lick every little sticky bit of it, then go fill the syringe with clean water and watch her suck on it like a kitten. Hahaha! I'll miss that little interaction with her. Sort of like when the baby stops drinking out of a bottle! I think I'll surprise her next week and take out the syringe and give her some water.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

I'd like to introduce our "young lady" Maria. Miss Maria is no longer a puppy and will be given some puppy Pamprin if she doesn't settle her little furry butt down. We had an interesting morning today!

I can't believe I saw blood and the thought never occurred to me...

She came into her first heat this morning and mommy freaked out--thinking (and saying outloud as I jumped out of bed)-- "Oh my God, please don't let anything happen to this poor dog after everything she's been through!!!!" My husband was out of town so my heart was racing trying to remember how to get to my refrigerator that held the magnet with the number to our emergency VET! Obviously something was WRONG because there was BLOOD!!!

You might have thought my own water broke and I was alone deep in the woods. I thought, "Gee whiz, Karen, get a GRIP!"


After I calmed down a bit and was just about to call my mother, Maria snapped at Annie while the poor dog was sleeping soundly next to me. That was my first clue. All of the dogs we ever had were either males or were older when we adopted them, so they had been spayed already. Duh, clueless.


Here's a cute photo of Maria eating grass to settle her tummy. I only took this one photo because she looked like she could GO OFF at any moment.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Maria is so easily distracted when she is outside! Sometimes we have to hurry up and go out before I go take our daughter to school and I swear, a bird can burp three houses away and she will stop and try to figure out where the noise came from! She's hilarious!

Some of you know that after that huge dogfood scare, I started making my dogs' food. Annie never used to eat store bought kibble very well, and when I started mixing her own food she gobbled it down.

I ask Maria almost every night what she thinks the "poor Dachshunds" are doing as she ever so gently takes a bite of her dinner from the fork. Yes, she's spoiled rotten! Ken says I do everything but chew up their food for them, but you know what, WHO CARES! They deserve it! They are precious, precious, precious!

Maria in the sun...

Here's a darling photo of Maria lying on the grass. We were walking around and all of a sudden she just stopped, laid down and went to sleep. It got me choked up because she was so cute! I just had to share the picture with you all. The sun was so warm and I guess she was so relaxed & happy...

Friday, November 14, 2008

I will be calling the vet soon to make an appointment to have Maria spayed. They are so pitiful when you go pick them up at the hospital, aren't they? Our friend "Raisin" just had her surgery, so we'll have to call and see how she's feeling now. Look how pretty this happy girl is now! She loves the new carpet, too. I know--what were you thinking, Karen? New Carpet--one week after a new puppy?

I know, I need to trim her nails again, too. Those things grow so fast!!! I'm so nervous about trimming, it's almost worth paying the vet to do it for me!

Big Girl

Friday, November 14, 2008

I know this photo isn't very clear, but we have a very shady backyard with a fence between our yard and the neighbor's yard. They have two really big dogs that come over to say hello every day and Maria just TEARS THEM UP through the fence! She must think she was a pitbull in a prior life or something. Her little guard hairs go up and she charges that fence like she's going to eat both of them at once!

Meet Dillon & Princess! The are both very good dogs that love to run and play together.

Maria at the fencespacerDillon

Dillon and Princess

Maria is really doing well! I'll bet she has nearly doubled in weight since we got her. Can you believe it has been less than 3 months since we got her! August 21st...wow. What an amazing transformation!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

There hasn't been many posts in the past month because we've been out of town and busy with getting ready for Christmas and everything but I wanted to pass on the latest news about Maria.

We've had a little rough setback because after Maria came into her first heat, she started exhibiting signs of her mange coming back. The type of skin disorder she has can come back if her immune system is compromised or if she has experienced something stressful like surgery or coming into heat.

She's doing alright but not great--she is back on her daily medicine and baths every few days. Although her vet examined her and started her medicine only 3 days after the first signs of a little "spot" of thin fur--I was surprised to see how much hair she has lost already. She's sleeping a lot and is already getting her little "dinosaur" skin with the bumps and wrinkles. All she wants to do is sleep and make it go away.

So! We're watching her, taking care to keep her warm and dry, and trying to make her comfortable. Dr. Hall says we're going to have to wait to have her spayed until she gets better from this setback. She also said that more than likely the skin will break out again because of the trauma of the surgery. So! We will post more pictures when we can. I don't want to poke the camera in her face when she's not feeling good.

Until then, here are a couple of photos we took when we went camping in Destin a couple of weekends ago. Annie and Maria just loved laying up on the back of the sofa watching out the window while we were taking a break from walks. This was Maria's first camping trip and she did great on the car ride to camp and back home again. I'm so glad I work from my home! ...so I can be here with them during the day. They sure are great company for me, too.

Merry Christmas everyone and I'll post more when I can.

~ Karen ~

(Photos from our camping trip on Saturday, December 6th)

Maria First Camping Trip

Maria's First Camping Trip

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Here is the latest news on Maria. She seems to be doing better today than yesterday. After seeing the thinning hair on her head and back, I got her to the vet within 2 days and even though she started her medicine five days ago, her condition continued to deteriorate. I guess I thought if she started on her medicine and baths, she would move forward and begin to heal but her skin continued to scale and bleed and wrinkle like it was when we first got her home. I brought her back to see Dr. Hall and she did another skin scrape and found many, many dead mites (that's what this skin condition is caused by--mites at the hair follicles) and the ones that were alive were dying. So we started on
another round of her medicine and added a different antibiotic with a probiotic to counter the effects of the antibiotic to go with it.

Everything seemed to be going just fine until I put a flea/tick collar on her about noon from the vet. Then I noticed she started to get depressed-looking and she wasn't acting her normal cheerful self. I watched her the rest of the day. She wouldn't even walk to our bedroom. I knew she was a sick little girl, and realized she usually acts a little down when she gets her medicine.

So, I figured she would get her rest and begin to feel better. But, during the night I became really concerned about her lack of spirit and the fact that although she is usually warm, her skin was almost cool to the touch! I kept waking up during the night trying to get her to move around or go outside, but she just wouldn't open her eyes. About 3:00 a.m. I began to wonder if the flea collar might be causing her to act this way. I took (almost ripped!) the collar off and almost within an hour, she was beginning
to warm up and act more lively.

Today she ate, went outside several times and was trotting up and down the stairs and hesitantly jumping on the couch or chair. I can see a HUGE improvement in her condition from yesterday. So much that I didn't feel so bad taking a couple of photos to show you how she looks today. It's NOT as bad as she was before...but definitely a step backwards from camping on December 6th.

Maria Dec 23, 08

Her skin breaks out in these huge welts and bumps, then begins to crack and wrinkle. You
can see the wrinkles around her neck and lower jawline in this picture. "Daddy" was gently
rubbing her right ear. I'm so glad the top of her head (my favorite place to KISS) is still
covered with soft brown fuzzy fur.

Maria Dec 23, 08

Here Ken is holding her back right foot because she wants to scratch with her nails and if she scratches more than about 2-3 times, her neck will start bleeding again. See how her little legs are all wrinkly? And her chest is sagging? Poor baby.

Maria Dec 23, 08

Her nose is beginning to wrinkle, but it hasn't lost the hair yet. When we first met her
she didn't have any fur, so we're not sure how far this bout will go. Hopefully she's on the
path to getting better now and her bumps will begin to go down. We'll keep you posted. In this picture she is enjoying the warmth of her Daddy's sweatshirt and big hands.

Merry Christmas from Maria!

Here are some pictures of Maria on her first Christmas!!! Although she was not feeling very well this week...we woke up Christmas Eve and she made a definite turn for the BETTER!

She woke up happy and full of life this Christmas morning! Her skin appears to be a bit better since her bath yesterday and she started playing with one of her toy friends, Ricky. These are all good signs! Merry Christmas to all of you from Maria...

Maria's First Christmas

Elizabeth and Maria

Here are some other pictures from Christmas morning... with her friends Annie and Elizabeth. Santa Daddy is holding one of their presents. Annie is a pro at tearing off the wrapping, but Maria was taking notes for next year.

Annie and Maria

Saturday, December 27, 2008

I don't have any new photos today but wanted to say Maria is doing SO MUCH BETTER!!! She is eating and running around, playing with toys, and giving enthusiastic kisses. These are all wonderful signs and although she has lost a lot of fur on her front, belly, and a lot more off her back, we think she will continue to get better from here. Gosh, almost hate to have her spayed, but we have to! Hopefully we can keep her from having another outbreak after the surgery.

Thank you all for your emails and calls. She is doing much better! I'll keep you posted. Happy New Year!

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Happy New Year everybody from Maria! Here are more photos taken the past couple of days. Once her fur stopped falling out, the bald areas started drying out and turning darker. Although she lost a little more fur after this first photo, her skin isn't NEARLY as dry and cracked as when we first got her. She has continued to be happy and eating well. In fact, I don't know if this medicine is making her hungry or what--but this little girl is eating, eating, EATING and always hungry! You can't drop anything around her or she'll gobble it up!


One week later...more fur fell out.


Here is a funny picture I got when I was trying to get a good shot of her chest. You can see where the skin gets darker after the fur falls out. See the top of her head? Still soft and kissable! In fact, I think I'll go kiss it right now.

Maria is much better!

Friday, January 16 , 2009

Maria is still doing very well! You can tell in this photo below that when she feels better, her eyes are open more and she just looks healthier now. She had another visit to her vet, Dr. Hall, and she was put on another round antibiotics and her daily meds (never did look at the name of the stuff in the bottle!). I just know it works and Maria loves that little dropper full every morning. Here she is wearing her little green jacket all snapped up. She sure hates cold weather and here in the panhandle of Florida it was 28 degrees this morning. Burrrrr!


Here is a picture of Maria watching out the window (from the top of the back of the recliner) to see her Dad drive up in his big truck. You can see where her skin has stopped "bubbling up" and has now turned a dark color of charcoal. The closer ones show where she's lost some more of her fur. Look at how her skin is hanging over her back end. She has lost most of the fur on her back but it's still fairly soft to the touch.





Maria's Aunt Penney from Cheyenne Wyoming sent her a box of soft plush toys for Christmas and she plays with them all the time. She has chewed the eyes and butt off most of them, but she loves her lion the most. Thank you, Penney! Poor Ricky (her stuffed Raccoon friend) has lost every appendage but she still drags him around. I wish he didn't smell like an old shoe. I'm afraid if I wash him, he'll disappear!



This morning Maria was laying on one of her warm blankets and started chewing Mr. Lion's limbs off while poor Annie was sleeping peacefully under the blanket. I don't think Maria even noticed she was there! When the lion fell off the couch, Maria looked at me like, "Uh, do you really think I'm getting off this warm blanket to pick up that lion?" She's teaching Annie some really bad habits! And Annie loves her.



Friday, January 30, 2009

Here is the latest update on our little Maria. I tried to take some photos of her this morning but she was running and playing so much in the house that most of them were blurry! Why is it that when you try to take pictures of your own pet--they run RIGHT AT THE CAMERA? I think it's funny that I'm a pet photographer and struggle to catch her in my viewfinder! I guess that's a good thing because that means she's running and playing and having a good time.

Here are some pictures I took this morning to show you how she's doing. Read the stuff below to see what we're doing with her now. She was getting ready to BOLT in this picture but it was the only one that came out that showed her fur closeup. It's certainly coming back in! And the black skin beneath her fur has definitely lightened a lot in the past two weeks.


Her chest has definitely shown some improvement and her bald head in the back is almost completely healed and furry.

I'm hoping there is something on this page that might help other people who have pets suffering from this skin problem. I know it can be frustrating and I know at times I feel so helpless to make it go away! If you've read this far...keep reading to see what we think might be working!


We went to the vet last week and it was pretty much determined that Maria just might be one of those dogs that struggles with this skin condition into her adult life. There are times when she might be better and other times of stress that might cause her to have a flare up. The most important thing at this point (and I totally agree)--we don't want to keep her on ivermectin indefinitely (NOTE: Please read later in Maria's story about how the ivermectin was NOT the treatment she needed--but something much better and ultimately healed her)--but didn't find out until she had been on it for a long time)--and as long as she doesn't have any open wounds, she shouldn't be on antibiotics any more than she has to be...So far she's not getting any worse since that vet visit...but it might be because of this:

Plan B! I am working hard to boost Maria's immune system by totally changing her diet. I had her on a store-bought dry kibble along with all the store-bought treats I could afford. I've always fed my dogs "normal" stuff but with her compromised immune system, she's not very normal.

I remember early on when we got Maria, she was eating what Annie was eating--a homemade raw diet of lean beef (ground) with veggies and she was on a forward track to healing! Then I changed her diet (Why? Um, I guess I felt the public pet food supply was now safe for them to eat?) Now I'm back to feeding them both a healthier grain-free type with extra fatty acids and omega oil and other good things.

We haven't had to mortgage the house yet, but Ken's got his pen ready in case I need it. How can he resist this FACE?????


So...that's the plan and I'm just happy she's not going backwards since we took her off all the meds. She is definitely lively and eating well. Every once in a while she gets a little bump or sore, but so far they have all healed. Hmmmmmmm...this new grain-free healthier diet just might be making a difference. So far so good.

And the coolest tip I learned this week?

If you have a dog that totally gobbles up his or her food and just won't stop eating like a vacuum...try this.

When you fix the bowl of food, try putting it on a plate instead and (get this) put a big ROCK or BRICK in the middle of the plate and put the food around it. This way the dog has to eat in circles around the rock and can't suck all the food up at once.

That's better than having to be inches away--letting them inhale 1/4 of the food, taking the plate away, letting them eat another 1/4, taking the plate away, etc.

Of course Maria just sits there and looks at the rock until I moved it so she can eat.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Although Plan B didn't work out exactly as we planned, we are very encouraged by the way Maria is looking today! I am continuing to feed her a grain-free diet of healthy dry dog food (thankfully at the cost--it is lasting a very long time!) along with homemade food of beef, chicken, veggies, and all good things. She is eating very well and as you can see by the photos here she is doing quite well!

Maria Feb 09

Here is a picture of Maria in her favorite place out inthe courtyard chewing on a stick. Check out that gorgeous brown fur!!! Although we took her off all meds in January, she started getting somewhat better and all of a sudden (when Ken went out of town!) she broke out in bumps all over, and was heading for a downhill slide very quickly. I decided to bring her to our other vet that treats Annie because I knew he was able to help my mom with her german shepherd's continual skin problems.

We decided to do a couple of different things--adding an anti-fungal pill and increase the dose of ivermectin. Because she was in such bad shape--her dose of ivermectin was so small in the beginning. It was very important not to give her too much. It was like she never got enough to knock out the mites and although the skin scrapes showed some improvement and less mites at times--she couldn't stay on the medicine indefinitely. During the first few months we were so busy fighting all of her infections and deep cracks and wounds from August 2008, it was tough to figure out what she could handle at times.

I believe what finally got her on the road to healing so well this time was the fact that she had the chance to build her immune system with all that good food, take a much needed break from medicine for a while and now going FULL FORCE with a larger dose of ivermectin (still only 0.1 ml and within the safe limits for her size), then after one week increasing the dose to 0.2 ml). She is doing quite well--and improving DAILY!

We will keep her on this 0.2 ml dose of ivermectin till the 10th of March (30 days) when we will return for another skin scrape to see if she has any mites. If YES, we will continue and do a scrape in 2 weeks. If NO, then we will continue the medicine for 1-2 more weeks AFTER a clear scrape. It was like we were getting her to the point where the mites were beginning to disappear--but then the few that were left multipled and infested her again. So! Here are a couple of other pictures of her today.

Maria and Annie

Annie is watching her chew the heck out of a stick she found in the yard. Annie isn't a stick-chewer so she just doesn't get it!


Chewing with her eyes closed....loving life once again.

How long?

Mom? How long are you going to make me sit here and watch her eat wood?

We are SO PLEASED with Maria's progress during this past month!!! If you are reading this and have a dog with demodectic mange, and have decided to have your dog treated with ivermectin--consider talking to your vet about safely increasing the dose. It is working for us!

St. Patrick's Day ~ March 17, 2009

Today was Maria's latest vet appointment since increasing the ivermectin dose to .2 ml. She finished her anti-fungal pills and her antibiotics and we are so encouraged by her progress!

Maria Mar 09

Our vet had to do another skin scrape where they scrape her skin deep enough (like the size smaller than a dime) to get down to the follicles to see if she has any live mites. The goal is NO evidence of mites!

The last scrape showed several live mites multiplying at an alarming rate. At best we've gotten a scrape with several dead mites and several dying mites but plenty of those little suckers still reproducing and having a party on this poor baby.

Today the scrape showed (can you believe this???) Several dead mites and one SINGLE live mite!!! This means we will continue the .2 ml of ivermectin for two more weeks and do another scrape. If the scrape shows NO evidence of mites next time--we'll give her the meds for 2 more weeks and hope for another negative scrape. Then she's done with the medicine!

We're just hoping this one mite is a male and isn't a pregnant female with octuplets.

Here are some new pictures I took of Maria today. She still has some little dark places under her fur but she is soft and no bumps! She even smells pretty! :-)

Maria Mar 09

Maria Mar 09

Maria Mar 09

Maria Mar 09

You know I had to include a photo of her chewing on a stick!

April 2, 2009

So much has happened since I last wrote to you about Maria but all of them are pretty good! Since March, she has steadily gotten stronger and her fur has been coming in nicely. She has had a total of FOURTEEN skin scrapes since we brought her home in August and the ivermectin dose seems to be working to eliminate the mites.

In her last four scrapes she had dying or dead mites. One time (two scrapes ago) she actually had NO live mites--but unfortunately there was one still hanging on by evidence on the next scrape.

Here is a picture of her from April! She's all curled up on her Daddy's lap snuggled in a little green sweater and a Merlin ball. How cute is that??? Here is another cute picture of her "holding on" to her food bowl with her little fingernails. These are the same fingernails she uses to grab my face and squeeze my lips together so she can KISS me. What a dog! :-)

Maria Apr 09

Maria Fingernails

May 20 , 2009

Guess what? We had Maria SPAYED! I wanted to make sure she didn't spiral down into another episode with mange after having the surgery, but it has been one week and she's still doing FINE! Yay!!!!!!!

She had her stitches out today and they said she is doing great. She has lost a couple of ounces but other than that, we think she might be strong enough to be okay! Again, I still believe the main thing we did right was increase the dose of ivermectin, work hard at feeding her only grain-free food, and making sure she had a multi-vitamin (Pet Tabs) or supplement to go along with the food she was eating. It's all about her immune system and being healthy so the "natural mites" don't take over!

Here are a couple of pictures of her enjoying the warm sunshine by the back door...

Maria in the Sun

Look how pretty her FUR looks in this picture below. The warm sun makes her ssss...l.l...e...eeeee... eeeeeeeepy. Can you tell?

Maria in the Sun

And you think this BONE will keep me awake? You're absolutely right!

Maria in the Sun

Thanks for checking up on Maria!

June 12 , 2009

Guess what? The first REAL CLEAN SKIN SCRAPE! Negative! Notta! Negativo!

No living ones
No dead ones
No mites hanging on to the edge of the glass under the microscope
No mites dialing 911

Next step? We wait between 3 weeks and a month and go have (what we hope to be) the last skin scrape. If that scrape is negative, we celebrate!


July 14 , 2009

Oh my goodness! Maria had her second CLEAN SKIN SCRAPE! Whoohoo! Yippee! Yay!

Miss Fraulein Maria McClure is finally cured of her mange. About 30 days shy of a year...I lost count of the number of skin scrapes and vet visits since August 2008.

Maria woke up this morning to NO medicine (except her Pet tab vitamin) and no bath. Wow...this is great! Here are some pictures of one sweet, precious healthy dog.

Miss Maria with her no-eyed penguin from our beloved friend Mary Jane...


Chewing on one of her favorite bones...

Maria July 2009

Thank-you kisses for Annie...

Best Friends

Thank you for...snuggling with me the past year...even though I didn't smell that great.

Thank you for understanding why mom and dad had to pay SO much attention to me.

Thank you for not getting mad when I got to ride in the car and you had to stay home (I really was at the vet and not the doggy park).

And thank you for being my best friend.

Hey, is that a mite I see on your nose?

And thanks to all of you for following Maria's progress!

We are so lucky to have her and it means a lot to see so many people watching her recovery. We didn't know how all of this would turn out, but we knew we had to do everything possible to save her.

And I'd like to thank the Academy...

Thank you to Dr. Hall at East Hill Veterinary Clinic for your help with Maria. I know with your early care and intervention she probably would not have survived at all. She had so many infections and was so very weak...thank you for suggesting we work on her immune system and try radical changes in her diet.

Thank you Dr. Zettler at Westside Animal Hospital for the personal time you spent doing research on persistent mite problems. It happened just the way you said it would--with persistence, building her immune system, and discovering that Advantage Multi was all she needed to cure her of this mange. I know you were just as excited as we were with the first clean scrape!

Thank you for taking the time to discuss our options, watching Maria so closely for improvement, and always giving us hope. This is the day we have been waiting for...


To read Angel's story, go to my "More Great Stuff " page at the links below.

Maria 2011

Maria 2012

NOTE added February 2012...Although you will read that we increased Maria's ivermectin dose thinking it would finally kill the mites--this was BEFORE we knew that a regular routine of the topical treatment Advantage Multi would have saved us
so much time and expense. You can continue to read the story about what we
did to cure her mange--but know that in the end it came back a few more times
and then our vet discovered Advantage Multi CURES demodectic mange!

It is February, 2012 and Maria hasn't had one single bit of
mange since she started on Advantage Multi.


It is November 2013 and while Maria hasn't had any mange, we did
make a change in her dose of Advantage Multi. We changed her dose to
a smaller dose (instead of .5 ml, we give her .4) and we also remove
her collar so the Advantage Multi doesn't soak her collar and continue to
stay on her neck area. We aren't sure if the Advantage Multi has anything
to do with this, but she had pinched nerve symptoms in her neck
for about 3 months and with much rest and no stairs, she slowly healed.
We did notice because of her normal overly dry skin, the Advantage Multi
was not traveling down her fur as much as it should and to avoid
prolonged Advantage Multi on her neck area, we stopped applying
it for now and switched her heartworm and flea treatment to
something else for now. Her mange has not returned, so just in case
she is reacting to the medication, we will stop it for now. Annie doesn't
have any reaction to the Advantage Multi and they
have both been on it for several years.

Update from February 2016
Maria continues to show no signs of mange and the only thing we're doing is feeding her Life's Abundance Natural Dog Food and she is on her monthly Advantage Multi Flea and Heartworm dose for a normal 10 pound bundle of love. We try to keep her
stress level down and shower her with love.