The Story of Priscilla

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Meet Priscilla Louise, she is now in heaven watching over us. She was found in a box beside the highway in Arkadelphia when she was about 10 weeks old, and taken to the Clarke County Animal Shelter where she was named Sugar. On January 4, 2003, when “Sugar” was 14 weeks old, she was adopted by Rennie Karnovich, and renamed Priscilla Louise.

Priscilla was Rennie’s first dog as an adult with a full-time job, and she quickly became spoiled with collars and leashes, toys, doggy play dates, and dog birthday parties to rival any toddler’s. She went to puppy training, obedience school, and more. Rennie did everything she could with Priscilla.

One day, Rennie and Priscilla went to a snow cone stand to enjoy their favorite root-beer-float-flavored snow cone. A lady at the stand asked Rennie if her young child could pet Priscilla. “Of course! Priscilla loves kids.” Rennie asked Priscilla to sit. The little girl approached quickly and stuck her thumbs up Priscilla’s nose. This definitely could have been a very bad situation for all involved, but fortunately Priscilla pulled her head away and looked at Rennie as if to ask, “What should I do now?” Rennie understood what an incredible response this was from a dog—looking to her owner for cues as to what to do next in an unclear situation.

About a year later, Rennie began a new job at Arkansas Children’s Hospital. She saw a dog going into the building and asked why the dog was allowed in the hospital. She was told the hospital had therapy dogs that greeted the children. It was the first time Rennie had heard of such a thing. Priscilla’s behavior with the girl at the snow cone stand had already indicated Priscilla was a natural with kids. Rennie researched and found a great dog trainer to help them sharpen skills; Priscilla worked on responding to wheelchairs and weird sounds, and Rennie learned how to always be an advocate for Priscilla.

Rennie and Priscilla passed their test, and became a therapy dog team working at Arkansas Children’s Hospital as part of the Therapeutic Animal Interventions Lift Spirits (TAILS) program. After 12 years of volunteering, they have tons of stories they will never forget. One favorite memory was of a tearful family looking on as, following surgery, their daughter took her first steps to hug Priscilla. A framed photo of Priscilla and the girl remained next to her bed throughout her hospital stay. 

Priscilla’s trademark—other than doing cute tricks like hide-and-seek, giving high fives, saying her prayers, and whispering—are her painted toenails. For every visit, she has a pretty “pawdicure.” 

In June 2016, Rennie moved Priscilla and her two other rescue dogs to Phoenix, Arizona, so Priscilla could take on a new frontier, Phoenix Children’s Hospital.


Grace Vest