By Alyssa Schor
Stella weighed only 2.9 lbs when she was rescued from Smyth County, Va. in early January 2015. The 8-year-old teacup Chihuahua needed many of her teeth and several lumps removed. She had a massive flea infestation. Much of her hair was gone, and she carried a bad odor, too.
But when Michelle Nottingham, a friend of City Dogs Rescue’s fundraising events coordinator John Benedetto, first saw a photo of the dog online, she knew she wanted to meet her. After having Stella in her home for a week at the end of January, Michelle decided to adopt her.
“I just knew I was gonna keep her,” Michelle said. “She just clung to me ever since I got her. She loves me.”
Unfortunately, Stella faced more medical problems. She had a heart murmur, and she would occasionally collapse from lack of oxygen to the brain. Michelle brought Stella to a cardiologist, who ran several tests on the dog - as it turned out, she actually had bronchitis.
Michelle said Stella also was not receiving enough quality food, which may have contributed to the hair loss and odor.
“You could feel every bone on her body, and that was from having no muscle,” Michelle said.
Stella now weighs 4 lbs. Most of her hair has grown back on its own; the odor is gone. Her coughing from the bronchitis has stopped, and the collapses are far less frequent, thanks to all her medications.
Her teeth are still a work in progress, Michelle said. Stella can only eat soft treats and dog foods, as she only has three teeth – all on one side of her mouth. One of those teeth is infected.
Next month, Michelle will take Stella to see a specialist. The dog’s teeth cannot be removed unless grafts are put in, which are fillers needed inside the mouth to keep the jaw in place.
Although Stella still needs help fixing some of her medical issues, Michelle said her dog has come a long way in the few months she’s had her.
“She’s in tip-top shape,” Michelle said. “It’s amazing what she looks like compared to what she did.”
When adopted, Stella joined another dog, Vivian, in Michelle’s home. Michelle said the two dogs get along very well and keep each other company – Vivian has even taught her “little sister” to be a real city dog.
“She acclimated really well,” Michelle said of Stella.
Michelle said her favorite thing about Stella is her affection. Stella sleeps with Michelle and often sits on her chest when she’s lying down – traits of a true Chihuahua.
“She has to be near me, sit on me all the time,” Michelle said.
Stella loves to wag her tail, run in the grass and travel. Michelle said Stella loves to give her kisses.
“She’s such a good girl,” Michelle said. “I just can’t believe her transformation.”
City Dogs Rescue & City Kitties volunteers.