Did you know that Kate Middleton, for all her fame, is merely the FIRST Princess Katie? Because once upon a time, in the kingdom of Thailand long long ago (well…in 2013, at any rate), I too was dubbed Princess Katie by my loving admirers!
I guess some people might call me homely. I’m a gentle, loving 5 year old spayed female, weighing just 22 lbs. I look a little like a miniature bull terrier (if you remember Spuds Mackenzie?) with my short legs and my little rotund body and my big ears – but there are some who looked at me and said my sweet nature made me royalty among dogs! And so Princess Katie I became…
But let me begin at the beginning…
When I was just a baby, I called the streets and alleys of Thailand my home. My street dog mother nurtured me the best she could, and she succeeded, for I survived the perils of traffic, disease, other street dogs, and humans with bad intentions.
Tragically, under cover of darkness one evening, I was stolen off the streets of Thailand and packed with hundreds of others like canine sardines into tiny, rusty ‘crush’ cages and stacked one atop the other onto a massive long distance truck. We were to be smuggled under cover of hot, heavy tarp – and our destination was across the border into neighboring nations where we would be yet more hapless victims of the brutal and illegal southeast Asian dog meat trade.
i survived, by a simple stroke of luck. The suspicions of Royal Thai policemen were aroused, and our tarp lifted. Flashlights peered through the darkness and illuminated hundreds of us, many already dead or dying from suffocation, hunger, thirst, or shock, since broken limbs were not uncommon in these crushed and packed accommodations.
Although we were saved, the only way to transport us to our next destination was in the same cages, on the same – now confiscated – truck. Another day’s journey of suffering began, and ended at Nakhon Phanom livestock center, a government run facility where many of us – sadly, too many – were brought during this time of crackdowns.
Workers and volunteers tried their best to help as many of us as they could, but issues abounded at Nakhon Phanom, an overtaxed facility that was never meant to house thousands of dogs. Disease was rampant; food shortages common; and fights broke out constantly among stressed, territorial, and unsocialized dogs. Many of us simply seemed to give up the will to live, and this was especially true for those of us among the most vulnerable: the very young, the very old, the very sick.
I managed to nail two of those categories by the time May 2013 rolled around, a few weeks after my “rescue.” I use quotes because I was safe…but then again, not really safe…due to my circumstances.
I was very young. And then I became very sick. This was almost inevitable…as a puppy, and a sweet gentle one at that, I lacked the ability to fend for myself. When food was dumped into the massive trough, I rarely secured a place at the feeder – and by the time I did, little was left for the weakest among us. Water was the same. I was also constantly crowded out of any shade protected places, such as elevated boundary walls where stronger dogs went to rest, knowing hostile dogs could not approach except from two directions.
I had reached a point where I simply gave up. Weakened, dehydrated, and ailing from infected puncture wounds after more dominant dogs attacked me, I lay down to die on the cold concrete.
It is hard to believe, but a photograph saved my life. Actually, several photographs…
An incredible Thai dog rescuer named Khun Bee was on scene during this time of great upheaval – the smugglers were being cracked down on heavily, which was great, but there were so few places to put so very many of us. Khun Bee was a Thai dog lover who was volunteering at the livestock centers to try to help us poor souls. But she was also a gifted photographer who discovered that her pictures had the ability to change lives.
She posted photos of as many of us as she could on social media, attracting much-needed attention for us. So many of us were saved because of her efforts.
In the case of me, it was her photos that again turned the tide on a faltering spark of life. She felt desperately sad to behold a little pitiful pup like me, near death, and with no hope of help except for from overseas support or sponsorship. Her photos went out across the wire…and supporters answered the call.
In my case, an emergency response was necessitated, and an offer of adoption was voiced. I was rushed nearly a day’s distance away to Bangkok, with a number of other dogs also saved by Khun Bee’s photos. Those dogs were to be transported to Elfesworld dog sanctuary, once their medical treatment and quarantine was completed and they were spayed and neutered. At the time, I was to be adopted by the person who offered to sponsor me.
I was touch and go at first, even with emergency medical intervention.
But once I was given that first inch, as the saying goes, I took it and went a mile…
…and within days, I was responding beautifully to treatment! Within a few weeks, I was ready to go!
The problem was, I had nowhere to go. My original supporter and adopter was unable to follow through on their commitment, and I was left floundering in that wake. I had watched as around me, the other Nakhon Phanom rescues – dogs destined for Elfesworld – completed their treatments and one by one, left me to join so many other lucky dogs at Elfesworld.
I was a little envious, which is a lot to say for me, as I am a really sweet-natured girl. But I couldn’t help myself! I had come so far and was more than ready to begin my journey to a real life at long last…however, the days and then weeks and months passed, and still I waited.
Meanwhile, so many loving supporters of Elfesworld around me, eager for photos of their own sponsored dogs, began to ask about me. Who was this cute, young, sweet dog whose tail was always wagging in every photo? Even with frozen images, the blur of my happy tail was always evident.
They realized it was me – that girl from Nakhon Phanom who came so perilously close to perishing. When Elfe’s supporters – in particular, Elfe’s right-hand woman, Ulla and a major USA supporter, Karene – pieced together my story and ascertained that I was the self same girl who had nowhere to go and bills left unpaid, they banded together, determined to help me. Unbeknownst to me, wheels were being set in motion and I, too, was about to have my day (as every dog should). Monies were raised and negotiations began with the veterinary staff and Elfe, who founded and ran the sanctuary already bustling with so many dog meat trade rescues.
In the end, I was amazed to find one day that it was ME queueing up for the truck that would take us to the airport, where we would fly for Elfesworld. Me??!!?! I could not believe my fortune!
Into a travel crate I went, and into the air…it was a little scary, but pretty amazing, knowing I was truly safe at last!
Once there, myself and several other lucky doggies were picked up at the airport by Elfe herself, and I enjoyed my first-ever truck ride NOT in a ‘crush’ cage! That was another exciting adventure!
At Elfesworld, I joined many friends I had made during my long stay at the veterinary clinic. I had arrived there on May 16 but did not leave until August 20 – more than three months later – so I had had a lot of time to make friends! Now, we were reunited…and I also met Elfe at last, the angel who is the reason so many of us are alive today. Eventually, I even found a sponsor who has faithfully provided for my monthly needs over the years, kind Erika, my guardian angel from afar.
Fast forward to today, almost four years on…
I should start by saying, I am not complaining in any way about my life! I am one of the luckiest dogs on this planet, and I know that and am thankful for that every single day!
There are the big things – like when visitors come to the sanctuary, and have time to give me pets and cuddles. Oh, how I live for those moments!
And there are the little things, which are also so special, as I almost didn’t live to experience all the wonderful things the world has to offer! Like graton, a sweet and tasty Thai fruit that I love to get my paws (and teeth) on…!
However, I am a tiny thing who can get picked on under the wrong circumstances, so I must spend my nights in a cage for my own safety. I have been healthy as a horse ever since my arrival, but even being in the pink, I simply do not have the strong, boisterous personality of many of my peers. I’m also fine with the pals I’ve made in my run…
…but in all honesty, I’ve never really been a ‘pack’ kind of doggie. I live for human attention and affection, and don’t require the company of other dogs to be happy.
In fact, I would do just fine as an only dog, because I’d have my humans all to myself, and that – to me – would be heaven on earth!
Elfe eagerly suggested me as an adoption candidate when this wonderful flight volunteer opportunity, thanks to ISDF founder Dawn Trimmel, volunteer Cyndi Pfeiffer, and Cyndi’s daughter Madison, arose because – as Elfe puts it – “she is the cutest thing, and I can’t WAIT to see her on a comfy sofa one day”!
Might that be YOUR sofa that’s calling my name……?
I sure hope so! I can’t wait to begin my real life at last!
Thanks for taking the time to read my story.
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If you are interested in adopting Katie, please contact Dawn Trimmel at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also find our adoption application here.
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If you would like to support this brave dog meat trade survivor’s journey to a new life, please consider donating and sharing her fundraising page, which can be found at https://www.gofundme.com/DMT-Flight-Fumd – every penny helps bring Katie one step closer to a forever family and home. Thank you!