When a 14-year-old Chihuahua mix was surrendered by her owners in October 2017 to Baldwin Park Animal Shelter in Baldwin Park, California, it was clear that she had been suffering neglect for some time. Fortunately, Marley’s Mutts Dog Rescue saved Blanche, named after a character from “The Golden Girls,” on the day she was set to be euthanized and began nursing her back to health before finding her the perfect forever home — and some very special fans began donating sweaters to keep the hairless little pup warm.
Blanche in the shelter | Amy Klein
Blanche’s surrender story was a heartbreaking one. She was taken to Baldwin Park Animal Shelter by her adult owner’s father out of spite over an undisclosed argument, according to Amy Klein, a volunteer for Marley’s Mutts who fostered Blanche. The pup was underweight, missing most of her fur, had severe dental problems and her nails were overgrown.
“Her rotted teeth were so bad that if she licked anything, you had to throw it in the washer immediately,” Klein told The Dodo. “The smell was not to be believed. They ended up pulling six teeth — I think she has about three left.”
Blanche’s rotted teeth | Amy Klein
It’s unknown if the public shelter alerted Blanche’s family that her time was up, but the owner returned to claim her again nine days later — on the very day that she was set to be euthanized. When informed that they would be legally responsible for taking care of her extensive medical issues or risk being fined, as well as charged a $15 boarding fee for each day she had been at the shelter, the owner decided to leave Blanche there and applied to adopt another dog (the application was denied).
The shelter had already reached out to Shannon Paris, the foster and volunteer coordinator for Marley’s Mutts, about Blanche, and she and Klein picked the dog up and took her to the vet that very day. It was then that they discovered she had Cushing’s disease and mammary tumors that couldn’t be removed — possibly because she had never been spayed, according to Paris.
In the middle of taking care of Blanche’s health problems, Marley’s Mutts had mentioned in a Facebook post that she could really use some sweaters to keep warm. The rescue’s fans, referred to as the “Mutt Militia,” immediately began sending in clothing for Blanche. One woman even hand-knitted some sweaters specially for the senior pup.
As Blanche’s personality started to come out more, it turned out that her extensive new wardrobe perfectly suited the prima donna. “Blanche is a diva,” said Klein, who fostered Blanche along with her own dogs: Molly, a 14-year-old terrier mix, and Gracie, a 9-year-old Dachshund. “She demands to be the alpha, steals the other dogs’ food and always wants to curl up with someone on a lap.”
Blanche (left) and her foster sister Gracie (right) sitting on Klein’s lap | Amy Klein
Even as the Cushing’s disease stabilized with medication and her hair began growing back, Blanche still found comfort in blankets and warm spots. “I find her all the time hiding under spare blankets in the closet or deep under the covers,” Klein said. “She loves her crate, where she has a beautiful afghan, and she and Molly love curling up to the space heater together.”
Blanche (left) and Gracie (right) staying warm under a hoodie | Amy Klein
Of course, that’s not to say that Blanche wasn’t curious about some recent snow at her foster home in the mountains — even if she didn’t stay out in it for long.
While in foster care, Blanche learned to share and even occasionally play, thanks to Molly and Gracie.
Molly (left) and Blanche (right) | Amy Klein
She also found herself a cute, younger boyfriend named Luca. He’s a 4-month-old yellow Labrador whose owner, a friend of Klein’s, is training him to become a therapy dog.
Luca (left) and Blanche (right) | Amy Klein
One of Klein’s favorite stories about Blanche was when she caught her climbing out of her pen so that she could get to the free-roaming Luca.
Like most seniors, Blanche enjoys the simpler things in life, such as laying in the sun …
She also experienced some special outings with Klein, like going horseback “riding.”
Though Blanche’s mammary cancer is inoperable, veterinarians had some good news about it. “The cancer is very slow growing and when she’s ready, she’ll likely pass from something other than the cancer,” Klein said. “It literally has no effect on her day-to-day life.” Blanche was even healthy enough to finally get spayed.
And the best news of all came just a few days before Christmas, when Blanche was officially adopted into her forever home.
Blanche with her new parents, Patricia (left, holding Blanche) and Gordon (right, holding Charlie) Cook | Amy Klein
Patricia Cook, of Bakersfield, California, followed Blanche’s story on social media from the beginning and fell in love. “I saw the posts on Facebook when they picked her up and she just looked so pathetic,” Cook told The Dodo. “I felt so sorry for her and she just grabbed at my heart. Well, I mean they all do, but there was something special about her.”
Blanche joined the Cooks’ existing family of four senior rescue dogs — Charlie and Maggie, both 9 years old, 11-year-old Dolly and 14-year-old Tucker. The couple has two cats as well.
The Cooks’ dogs, clockwise from top left: Blanche and Tucker, Maggie, Dolly and Charlie | Patricia Clark
“She’s definitely [still a diva],” Cook said, “but she fits in well and gets along with everyone.”
Cook also plans to continue growing Blanche’s extensive wardrobe, since the pup appears to enjoy being dressed in her little outfits. “She has more clothing than I do,” Cook said.
Cook said she’s fallen in love with Blanche’s comical ways, sweet little face and energetic personality. “She love to stretch out, paw at the ground like a little bull and grab at shoes with her paws,” Cook said. “My husband frequently questions if she’s really a senior because she has a lot of energy. Don’t give up on them [the seniors] — they still have a lot of life left in them and it’s really nice to see them come out of their shell after the shelter.”
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