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On October 22, 2007, two female borzoi were found in the desert near Estrella Mountain Park southwest of Phoenix, AZ. One had red markings. She was placed by a local rescue group. The white and cream girl had a urinary tract infection, hookworm and whipworm. She was named Lara, and sent to a local vet for treatment and spaying.

Lara lived in a crate at the vet's office for nearly 3 weeks before NBRF finally succeeded in extracting her. A family in Gilbert with 3 children wanted to adopt her, but the husband refused to accompany his family to meet Lara. As second in line, I was overjoyed to hear this! I re-named her Mischa, after the friend who had told me about the 2 dumped girls.

On November 24, 2007, Mischa arrived via Delta Dash. She was very frightened and had soiled her crate. I hugged her all the way home. Our vet found that she had heartworm disease. She had not been tested for heartworm before the AZ vet spayed her. She could have died. She still had a UTI. Housetraining was a challenge. Her hocks were bent. She did not squat to urinate as female dogs do. Instead, she peed as she walked along, leaving a long snaky trail on the road behind her.

It took months to settle her down physically and mentally. With time, she grew to accept 3 our zoiboys, tho she often growled at them when they came into "her" room. They learned to ignore her. She had marvelous ears that perked straight up, pink inside like a bunny's. When Nikolai howled, she was always the first to join in. When given a treat, she would trot back to her room, tail happily swishing back and forth, deposit it on her bed, and push it around with her nose before eating it. When i dropped ice cubes in one of the water bowls or opened a slice of American cheese, she would trot into the kitchen expectantly.

She enjoyed lying on a neighbor's lush lawn, gazing around at the occasional car or passer-by. Going home, she would run up our little hill, stop at the top, look back at me and wait. She hated getting wet, especially her paws. If a droplet or two did fall on her, she would put her head under the bedcovers after coming in the house.

The years passed, all too quickly, Mischa settled into the role of benevolent matriarch. Until the end of her life, she was afraid of strangers and other dogs, no matter how gentle and friendly they were. Once a Lab puppy got loose and raced up to us. Mischa hid behind my legs, but the puppy was determined to meet her. Mischa went round and round me, the puppy in hot pursuit. Finally his owner retrieved him sheepishly.

In February 2015, she hurt herself jumping from my SUV. She spent 5 days at the ER, undergoing every test imaginable. She would not get up, eat, or drink. The surgeon told me that he could do no more for her, and to prepare to lose her. When they wheeled her out on a gurney, she saw my SUV and got up. Everyone's jaws dropped. She required intense care at home, but with our wonderful vets and with long-distance help from Dr. Beth Coney, Mischa recovered quickly.

In the summer of 2017, she began walking less. She developed a MRSA UTI. Hurricane Irma bore down on us. Our power went out for 32 hours. After Irma passed, I opened windows to catch the ocean breezes. Several hours later, Mischa began to experience breathing difficulty. The ER diagnosed her with heat stroke secondary to LP. LP???? She had none of the classic symptoms! They stabilised her, but the next day she suffered cardiac irregularities and blood clotting complications. I held her close as she was released from this earth, freed from any more vet visits. tests, and medications. She had graced our lives for almost 10 years.

The boys were subdued when Mischa did not return home. Nikolai howled mournfully. I never knew who Mischa was or where she came from, but I know where she is now---in my heart forever.

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