Dog Rescues Galaxy of Stranded Starfish

On a tiny reef off the coast of Diani Beach in Kenya, a galaxy of starfish is about to kiss the sun. In the distance, a small, sandy dog named Princess begins cutting across the glassy surface of the Indian Ocean. Perched at the front of a wooden canoe, she’s leading the race to bring the sea stars to deeper waters before it’s too late.

Jenny Desmond relocating sea stars in Kenya.

Jenny Desmond relocating sea stars in Kenya.

“We knew the tide would be at an all time low and at the hottest time of day so the reef would be extremely exposed,” conservationist Jenny Desmond explains while stroking Princess who is glued to her legs after a hard day’s work. “It was likely the starfish would be unable to move quickly enough to get out of their remaining tiny tide pools and into deeper waters before the sun dried them up. So we went out in a dugout canoe with a sail made of used cloth and started gathering them up as fast as we could.”

And Princess, who loves to have a job, immediately began imitating her human family.

“Princess was enthralled,” Jenny says. “She followed us everywhere as we gathered them, even trying to pick some up herself. Although she is very gentle with other creatures, we decided she might accidentally damage them so we put her on guard duty looking over those we had moved to deeper water. She was extremely  interested in them and had to go see each and every one.”

Click Photos Below To See Them Larger

“It was miraculous and a truly moving experience,” Jenny explains of her real-life enactment of the famous starfish rescue parable. “We had no idea how powerful it would be or the vast number of starfish who had already begun to be impacted by the sun. It was wondrous, in the clear blue water, working with the Kenyans, our friend Luciana Parazzi and, of course Princess, on the Secret Starfish Reef.”

Veterinarian Jimmy Desmond shares his attention with Princess and a rescued Piglet named Charlotte in Uganda.

Jimmy shares his attention with Princess and a rescued Piglet named Charlotte in Uganda.

When she was just one-year-old, Princess was taken into foster care at the home of Jimmy and Jenny Desmond, American conservationists with passports bearing the ink of dozens of countries. Jimmy, who grew up in Boston, was in veterinary school at the time, training in a wildlife specialty that would ultimately lead him to work with some of the world’s most prestigious organizations including the Jane Goodall Institute. He’s a bit of a Dr. Doolittle, working with everything from the newborn vervet monkeys to full-grown elephants. Jenny was raised in Colorado and has extensive experience in sanctuary management, a gift for healing wild orphans and is International Programs Director for the Harmony Fund animal rescue charity. Jenny explains how Princess went from a foster dog to an adopted dog in their family.

“When Princess arrived, I knew I’d met my match,” Jenny said warmly. “We worked so hard together for months and she is simply the most wonderful dog ever. However, potential adopters would come to meet her, she’d act as if she had just arrived that day and reverted to all the old behaviors. Hmmmm…I wonder if she picked us? She has now lived in 7, soon to be 8, countries with us and has also acted as an ambassador for dogs and how they are part of your family in many parts of the world where this concept is a foreign one, changing the world for animals and how they are cared for globally.”

Amazing Facebook Photo Gallery of Princess Caring for Animal Orphans

As part of this special family, Princess has often demonstrated her own special gift for saving animals and has been a “nanny” to chimpanzees, gorillas, bushbabies, squirrels, piglets, puppies and kittens.

Click below to see more photos of Princess and "her" rescues!

Click below to see more photos of Princess and “her” rescues!

To see the Facebook photo gallery of Princess putting a motherly paw on rescued animals of many species, click here.



Mark Donner
Mark Donner3 years ago

Not all starfish destroy reefs. Only the crown of thrones invasive species in Australia.

Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallus3 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Cally Smith
Cally Smith3 years ago

Beautiful story, beautiful Princess! Thank you Jenny and Jimmy for all you do :-) xx

Maggie W.
Maggie D3 years ago

Princess the queen of animal nannies. Thank you for this heartwarming story.

Jennifer H.
Jennifer H3 years ago

What a wonderful dog that can handle anything thrown at her. Thanks for sharing her special story.

Fi T.
Past Member 3 years ago

Why can't the human, claimed to be the intelligent, do as the dog?

Caitlin Popplewell

This was my highlight of the day. :)

Quanta Kiran
Quanta Kiran3 years ago


Kathy P.
kathy P3 years ago

What a beautiful story. Makes me happy. Thank you to their love and caring.

Yola S.
.3 years ago

A lovely story.