Austin James, 17, plays with Maggie, formerly Princess P, at the home of his parents, Shannon and Terry James in Bradner, Ohio. The family also has another dog, Milo.
Except for the pale scar that wraps around her neck, happy-go-lucky Maggie shows few signs of the unpleasant past that made her a canine celebrity around the world.
Maggie, formerly Princess P and recently adopted to a Wood County family, is a large mixed-breed dog that was found by the Lucas County Canine Care & Control in September with a clothesline or tie-out cable embedded deep into her neck. The cable severed her lymph system and caused her head to swell to twice its natural size.
She underwent several medical procedures with the help of Cutie’s Fund, a program to help dogs that come into the county shelter with high-cost medical needs, to clean and close the massive wound that measured 3 inches across and 5 inches deep. She was transferred to the Toledo Area Humane Society and spent time in a foster home to recover.
“It was the worst we had ever seen,” Gary Willoughby, executive director of the humane society, said. “You can only imagine what she went through. You just hoped that she didn't have any emotional scarring, but she really didn't seem to. She still liked people and trusted people. She had a really good attitude about everything.”
She came out of foster care and was in the shelter for a week or two before the James family of Bradner, Ohio, fell in love with her Dec. 12.
Terry and Shannon James and their son, Austin, 17, had been looking for a second dog to keep their dog, Milo, company. Milo was also a cruelty rescue at the humane society, having been abandoned in a crack house in Toledo. He was emaciated and still suffers from neurological problems, falling frequently and sometimes moving strangely.
“They think he took a blow to the head,” Mr. James said. “He's got no balance.”
When the family met Maggie in the shelter, the connection was instant.
Maggie suffered massive injuries to her neck where she was tethered. Her wounds have healed but left a permanent scar. Her medical care was paid for from Cuties Fund.
“She likes everybody, but she attached to Shannon right away,” Mr. James said.
Austin later brought Milo to meet Maggie, and the two immediately began to play. Maggie went home the same day, fitting in perfectly like a lost puzzle piece.
“It was like she'd always been here,” Mrs. James said. “She really didn't have to adjust at all.”
Maggie and Milo wrestle all day long, napping between bouts. When Milo has a neurological episode and needs a moment to collect himself, Maggie knows it.
“She'll back away from him, and as soon as he looks at her, they'll go back to it,” Mr. James said.
Maggie enjoys playing tug-of-war with Austin each day, and often carries her grubby rope around.
“She's the first dog that will actually play tug-of-war with me,” Austin said. “I just love her.”
Milo will also play tug-of-war with Maggie, though he prefers to simply lay down and let her drag him for a bit before releasing the rope and attempting to engage her in wrestling by play-biting her leg.
Over time, the family discovered that Maggie shows some signs of having been beaten in her past. When Mrs. James was in the kitchen baking one day, Mr. James took a wooden spoon and play-acted like he was going to hit Mrs. James with it.
Maggie “literally fell to the ground and cowered from me,” Mr. James said.
And when Maggie hears the phrase “bad dog” or “bad girl,” her reaction to it is stronger than the average dog's response.
“I didn't raise my voice or anything, but she instantly put her head down and took off running,” Mrs. James said.
But most of the time, Maggie is her usual self. She lives for affection, and the family is working on her bad habits of jumping on people and gently mouthing their hands and arms. She never hurts anyone, but is simply seeking their attention.
“She just loves attention, period,” Mrs. James said. “I'll be walking, and she'll grab a hold of the tip of my finger. She'll just follow behind me with my finger in her mouth.”
The family has gotten used to Maggie's less-than-proper manners as well. Mrs. James noted she belches and passes gas frequently. She makes snorelike sounds even when she's not sleeping, and when she is sleeping, the noise only increases.
“She's not much of a lady,” Mrs. James joked. “She's not dainty at all. She's definitely not a princess.”
The spoiling she's receiving will make up for her painful past, Mr. Willoughby said.
“It was very heartening,” he said. “You always hope for that kind of sailing-off-into-the-sunset happy ending like she's had.”
After The Blade’s story on Princess P was picked up by London’s Daily Mail, donations for the dog warden’s Cutie’s Fund started flowing in from the United States and around the world, including Australia, Venezuela, Switzerland, Canada, Greece, Belgium, and the United Kingdom.
Cutie’s Fund has raised more than $55,000 to date. Donations, which are tax-deductible, may be made in person or mailed to Lucas County Canine Care & Control, 410 S. Erie St., Toledo, OH, 43604, or online at lucascountydogs.com/donate/cuties-fund.
Checks should be made payable to Lucas County Canine Care & Control with “Cutie’s Fund” specified on the memo line.