Gloria and Princessa

A 50-year old woman without children, Gloria has eleven adopted cats and twenty-eight dogs in a small home she rents with her husband. The situation is insane, made worse by the poorly named “Princessa,” a dog that was hit by a car and left at the roadside with the back half of her body crushed. Gloria and her husband found Princessa in the middle of the night and took her to a vet who said euthanasia was the only answer. In a case of detrimental human attachment, Gloria refused. Unable to pay for amputation of the useless limbs, they took Princessa home after a mere anti-inflammatory and antibiotic injection.

For six years Princessa has been living with her limbs dragging behind her, one leg able to fold in half, as Gloria demonstrated. The husband built her a rudimentary wheelchair out of a device used to teach toddlers to walk, with a pair of denim jeans cut to make a seat. It’s clumsy and awkward not only to put the dog into it (there were a few failed attempts) but also for the dog to move around in it – either she falls out or bumps against things in the cramped circumstances of a tiny house filled with forty other beings. Dragging herself around without the wheelchair has left her legs raw. The design of the wheelchair means she sits in her own feces and Gloria or her husband must wash the seat, and the dog, each day.

Still worse than her physical condition is Princessa’s mental state. I cannot begin to imagine the trauma of living with a daily, visual reminder of a crushed body. She has received no further veterinary care. They live on a busy road that Princessa must cross every day – trapped by sidewalks until Gloria lifts her off the street. Here she is able to run next to a basketball court. I’m told bright lights frighten her because of the memory of the accident, but it’s clear everything frightens her. Her panting and erratic movements attest to over-stimulation and stress. Her owners have the best intentions but the situation is horrifying. She is not sterilized and when she comes into heat the other dogs in the house try to mate with her. I’m haunted by what I’ve seen in this home.

We forgot to bury the dead puppies.

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