This little — and I do mean little, at 4.8 pounds! — tyke came to us from a local shelter a couple of months ago. Mickey had been part of a trio of small dogs that had been left behind at home when their elderly owner went into the hospital. Yet sequestered in a hospital bed, and unlikely to ever return home, the owner refused to relinquish custody of the dogs to animal control. It took a visit by the State Police to the hospital room to compel the owner to sign surrender papers, allowing the dogs to be rescued and taken into care.
But the owner still refused to provide any information on the dogs, so we have no vet records or any history on Mickey. We don’t even know his age. We know his name only because he was wearing a name tag when he was impounded.
The shelter asked if we could take Mickey because of his overall condition. (The other two dogs were in much better shape.) Though not disabled, Mickey was almost completely hairless and had a mouth full of rotting teeth. He still has a couple of patches of copper colored hair, but most of his body is bald.
We took him to our local vet for a complete work-up. His blood work was pretty normal, including thyroid, and there were no deficiencies or red flags that would explain his hairless body. There’s no scratching, there’s no inflammation or other signs of skin distress, and nothing that could explain the absence of hair. Our vet ultimately diagnosed it as a case of a “color dilute alopecia.”
If you’re wondering why he isn’t wearing clothing of some sort … well, the shelter tried a variety of coats with him, and he would take them off and pee on them. They quit trying.
To be honest, Mickey was a real handful when he first arrived. He tried to bite us every time we handled him, so we learned to drop a fleece blanket on him, scoop him up in it, and then take him outside. He had been “trained” by his previous owner to use a “piddle pad” indoors, which just means you have a dog who is used to urinating and defecating in the house. Lovely. So we started from scratch with house-training, too. Between the biting and the peeing indoors, there were times when we wondered what we were going to do with him.
Mickey must have overheard those conversations, because one day he just changed his personality. Really. It was like a different dog showed up. He stopped trying to bite us at every opportunity. He began to go outside on his own with the other dogs to pee and poop. He began to come to us, rather than dive under his bedding to avoid us.
In the meantime, our vet did a dental on him. She had to remove every remaining tooth he had. So in addition to being a hairless wonder, he’s also a toothless wonder.
He has a pen in the living room where he hangs out, usually burrowed deep under a blanket, though he’s free to come and go. We still have pee pads in it because he can’t always hold it overnight, but generally he does really well in that department.
In the evening when we’re reading in the living room, Mickey comes over and insists on climbing onto the couch so he can sit on Alayne’s lap. He’s come a long, long way!