Millie, Graham, NC

My name is Millie. I am one of the lucky ones. I was saved from a high kill shelter in North Carolina. And…I am dying.

My parents named me Millie because of its German translation, strength and determination. I also have many nicknames that I answer to—Mildred, Millie Sue, Mills, Mama, Mill Mill, etc. My story is unique and as part of my “bucket list” I want to share it with the world.

I was about two years old when my previous “owner” surrendered me to Lee County Shelter. I had a severe case of demodectic mange and a horrible secondary skin infection. I had absolutely no hair and my whole body was swollen and infested with pustules and scabs.

Due to my horrible condition, I was set to be euthanized on the evening of May 28th, 2013. That day my momma laid eyes on my shelter picture and as soon as she did, she knew I was something special and deserved a second chance at life. I’m so happy my mom found me when she did because I was set to be euthanized at 4:30 pm and I was saved just in time.

She had recently suffered the loss of a foster puppy to Parvo and I knew it was my duty to help heal her heart while she did everything in her power to heal my broken body and soul. So, I guess you could say my mom and I were meant to be or better yet, soul mates!

Oh, she was my foster mom then; she was fostering me for the Fortitudine Vincimus Rescue in Asheboro, NC. It took 3-4 months for my skin infection to clear and for all of my hair to return. When the time came for me to be put up for adoption, she knew that she simply could not part with me. She became my forever momma and turned me into the princess that I am today!

Honestly, Momma and I have a bond that is indescribable! She calls me her shadow—where ever she goes, I’m sure to follow even if it means sitting underneath the shower curtain while she takes a shower! I can tell when she has had a stressful day or when she’s sad and I know just how to cheer her up! Most days, I just sit patiently and let her cry on my shoulder and reassure her that it’s going to be okay. Momma tells me that I’m her special child…I think that means I’m the favorite!

I woke up on November 30th with a temperature of 104.5, no appetite and very lethargic. To say my mom was panicked, is an understatement. My parents diligently monitored my temperature throughout the day. Well, my temperature didn’t subside so my parents decided to take me to the emergency vet. I was poked and prodded and many tests were ran. My platelets were extremely low and the emergency vet felt like I had a tick borne disease (Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever) which is totally treatable.

My parents were instructed to have me be seen by my regular vet on Monday morning. After many tests, a few days of antibiotics and steroids and no improvement, our personal vet order a echo where the large lesion on my aortic valve was discovered. Three days after my mom’s birthday, my life as I knew it would come to a screeching halt.

Simply put, I am terminally ill. I was diagnosed with Endocarditis—an infection in my heart, specifically on my Aortic Valve—in December of 2013. We were then immediately rushed to NCSU Vet Teaching Hospital and the veterinarians were surprised that I made it through the first two weeks of treatment. The bacterial lesion on my aortic valve was quite large and the risk of an embolism was of great concern.

I stayed in the hospital for 2 weeks to receive intravenous medication. Those were the longest two weeks of our lives—every day, every visit was a gift and my parents were extremely grateful for every second that we got to spend together! The unknown of how I would respond to treatment and the stress of not knowing if I would ever make it out of the hospital made for a long and restless two weeks!

Fortunately, I finally got to come home a few days before Christmas! For the next three months I had several checkups and a strict daily regiment of medicine. Momma think I seemed to be doing really well at home and was pretty much back to myself, just with a little less energy.

But my most recent checkup on April 3, 2014, revealed that I actually wasn’t doing so great. The large lesion is still present on my aortic valve but it looks more calcified, so hopefully all of the bacteria are gone but we won’t know for sure until after my blood tests come back. Due to the damage that the bacteria caused to my valve, my heart can’t pump blood as efficiently and therefore it has to overcompensate. This overcompensation has lead to what they call “Ventricular Hypertrophy” of my left ventricle—a lot of big words that simply mean my heart has enlarged, which isn’t good.

We were devastated to find out that ultimately Millie will go into congestive heart failure sooner rather than later. About a week ago my parents received the results from my April 3rd blood tests/cultures and thankfully they revealed that the bacteria had been eliminated and sterilized. The next step for me is surgical intervention! Due to the fact that a majority of our surgical options are a “first of their kind” type of procedure, my parents are trying to find the best option for ensuring my safety, health, and longevity. Without surgery, my cardiologist predicts that she has between 3 months to 2 years left, which is nowhere near long enough!

The cardio team at NCSU is currently researching new surgical options to prolong my life. My parents were hopeful that a valve replacement at Colorado State would be an option, but they have recently stopped performing this surgery. They are praying that an amazing surgical option will be discovered to help reduce the stress on my heart, which will give them more time with me. I’m sure keeping my paws crossed!

So, in the meantime we are enjoying every last second—which includes lots of playing with my brother and sisters, and my absolute favorite things: riding in the car and playing with stuffed, squeaky toys! I LOVE  them!! Oh, and checking items off my bucket list, like becoming an official “Monster”! 🙂

My bucket list is the reason my parents started my own Facebook page. It help them to focus on living and to record every minute, every second of our life together. And to share my lessons in life.

My first lessons in life weren’t that great. I learned that I had no value. I learned that when I got sick, I would be thrown away. I learned about fear, pain and solitude. Then my mom found me and taught me to love, to play, to dress like a girl and to sleep on fluffy pillows. And now, through my Facebook page, I know the love of strangers, the compassion of saints and the generosity of friends! I don’t think my mom could do all that she does for me if it weren’t for the love and care of strangers and friends. So thank you to everyone who’s helped us!!

Thank you for reading my story. Please follow my journey and share it with your friends. My hope is that by sharing my story I inspire and empower humans to help save broken shelter souls like myself and to never give up on a four-legged friend!

I might have started my life as “just a dog” but, I will leave this world as MILLIE and I will be loved by many.


Parent: Ashton

Editor’s Note: Millie went into surgery on September 2nd, 2014, at NC State ICU. The surgeon, Dr. Orton from Colorado State University, flew in to perform the surgery; he’s done this surgery once before and Millie’s family was optimistic. Unfortunately, Millie did not make it out of surgery.

From her  heartbroken mom: “Her weak heart stopped towards the end. Her surgeons tried everything to keep her alive, but she was too weak and was ready to cross rainbow bridge. I will miss you sweet girl, I love you more than words will ever be able to describe.”

Run free, Millie