Elsa With Christmas Toy

Elsa ‘rips up the rule book’ in time for Christmas home search

Itchy, sore and almost completely bald, five-year-old Elsa was in a desperate state by the time she arrived at our Suffolk rehoming centre in August.

The shih tzu, who had just had her second litter of puppies, was quickly assessed by a vet and found to be suffering from a painful condition called sarcoptic mange.

Claire Williamson, Centre Manager at Suffolk, said: “We were shocked when Elsa arrived in our care. Her condition was so severe that she had almost no fur left on her body. Not only was her skin very sore, cracked and bleeding in places, but it was clear she was very irritated by the condition.”

Elsa on admission to the centre
Poor Elsa was in a desperate state when she arrived at the centre.

If left untreated, sarcoptic mange can cause dogs to lose all their fur. The condition can be incredibly uncomfortable, meaning poor Elsa must have really been suffering.

She was immediately put on daily antibiotics and her condition managed with steroids and medicated baths. With such special care needed to get her skin under control, the team decided that Elsa really needed a foster home where she could continue her treatment.

Susie Winship, Animal Welfare Officer at Suffolk, stepped up to the mark. She said: “Her skin was red raw, bleeding, oozing, crusty, covered in fat, live fleas. She was a mess."

Elsa running

But it wasn’t long before her condition began to improve, thanks to Susie’s round-the-clock care. And, soon, Elsa’s character began to shine through.

Susie added: "She’s got such a personality, she’s absolutely hilarious."

Despite her skin being on the mend, Elsa wasn’t quite out of the woods yet – an issue with her back legs was now proving to be a further setback for poor Elsa.

Elsa Walking On Lead
Elsa with Susie at the centre

The team had noticed that something wasn’t quite right with Elsa’s hind legs when walking. However, it wasn’t until she was put under general anaesthetic to be neutered that the vet was able to give her a complete assessment and X-rays.

Susie explained: “The results were worrying. She had cruciate injuries to both legs, issues with both knees and one of her hips seemed to be permanently out of the socket.”

Suddenly, Elsa’s whole future hung in the balance.

Elsa sitting on Susie's lap

Vets felt that such extensive surgery – with no guaranteed outcome – was too much to put her through, due to the long recovery time and pain it could cause.

And with the little fighter showing such an enormous zest for life, further assessments found that, remarkably, her issues weren’t fazing her or causing any pain that couldn’t be managed.

It was therefore decided that it was in Elsa’s best interests to rehome her just as she was, with support given to her new owners on how to manage and continue to treat her condition.

Elsa sitting on the sofa with Susie
All Elsa wanted for Christmas was a home

So, Elsa has proved to be Blue Cross Suffolk’s very own Christmas miracle.

And now Susie and the team have their fingers crossed for a fresh start for Elsa in time for the festivities.

She added: “Elsa’s story has pretty much torn up the rule book so far, but she really is an awesome little dog and is going to make someone the best companion.”

Elsa Outside
— Page last updated 18/12/2020