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Happy Tail - Less than perfect

When you go to adopt a dog don't overlook the dog with one eye, only three legs, deaf or blind. They still have the capacity to love and don't need your sympathy – they just want someone to love them. And they'll love you back despite your unconformities.
The next earlier Peg Schaeffer column Happy Tails: A welcome Annual Visitor, Michelle Ruiz Posted August 11, 2013

By Peg Schaeffer
News from Sugarfoot Farm Rescue, 270-378-4521 or 270-634-4675

We have several dogs here who are less than perfect. Two of our dogs have only 1 eye. Two of our dogs have 1 leg missing. We have 4 dogs who are deaf. One of our dogs is blind. The amazing thing about all of these dogs is that they don't know they are handicapped. They don't feel sorry for themselves. They just get on with their lives.

Sydney and Tunie have only one eye. - Tunie was born with just one eye. She is totally functional. She finds nothing wrong with the fact that she can only see out of her one eye. She's loving and completely competent to care for herself.

Sydney is the other dog with only one eye. He is totally blind. After he became blind one of his eyes started to swell and I knew he was in pain. I took him to the vet for an exam. The eye was causing pressure on his brain and he was in a lot of discomfort. The vet suggested I remove the eye. At first I was totally against it. But the vet's logic was "he's blind anyway," why does he need the eye? So I agreed to let him remove the eye. Soon after the surgery you could see that Sydney was no longer in discomfort. It reminded me of an old horse trader who told me about a horse "blind in one eye and can't see out of the other.

The two dogs who have a leg missing are Ruger and Buster. - Ruger is an Australian Cattle Dog. He lived on a horse farm and a horse kicked him and broke his leg. He had surgery and a plate was put in. Soon after the surgery he got his dew claw caught in the rug and he pulled away shredding the bone. So the only option was to have the leg removed.

Tell Ruger he has only three legs. He doesn't know it. He can run with the best of them. He will play Frisbee and chase after balls all day. He has a leg missing? Don’t tell him.

Buster is a St. Bernard/Lab mix. He weighs at least 100 pounds. He only has three legs. Remind him of that when he's sitting at your side offering his paw for a handshake. He is easy going and a people lover. He has a leg missing? Don't tell him.

Weezie, Maxwell, and Nellie are all Australian Cattle Dogs who are deaf. The original Australian Cattle Dog was Collie and Dingo and then were bred with Dalmatians, who have the love of horses. Deafness is a trait of Dalmatians and as a result this trait has also transferred to the Australian Cattle Dogs. As a consequence of their deafness Nellie and Maxwell (who are brother and sister) are very shy. Because they can't hear you talking to them they are very suspicious. But Weezie has been taught hand signals and will respond to gestures. She is the first one in the morning to start barking. Even though I know she's deaf I'll yell at her to "shut up." Of course she could care less. She knows my hand signal to be quiet and when she can see me she will stop barking.

Sydney, my Red Heeler, has the majority of the disabilities. He is blind, deaf, and has only one eye. Does that stop him? NO! I take him to horse shows with me and he is well behaved. When we go to the hotel room and we have to go up the stairs he knows how to climb the stairs. When he could hear I would say "UP, UP, UP" and he knew what to do. When we got to the top of the stairs I would tell him "OK" and he knew he was back on the level again. Now I have to touch the top of his head when we reach the top and he knows what I mean.

At home Sydney still knows how to find the pet door and will go outside to go to the bathroom (I have dogs with all of their faculties who still don't know how to go outside) and can find the water buckets. I constantly point this out to the other dogs but they ignore me.

Sydney's blindness is caused by Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) which is common in Australian Cattle Dogs. When he was first diagnosed I took him to a dog optometrist. He examined Sydney and told me the prognosis was not good. There was nothing I could do to stop the oncoming blindness. I cried. The vet told me that dogs are not like people. Although Sydney was going blind he would adjust to it. He said the dogs don't feel sorry for themselves. They adjust and get on with life. And Sydney has gotten on with his life. He's yet to miss a meal and he knows when we're eating supper and makes sure he gets his fair share of table scraps.

This is a lesson we can learn from our four legged friends. They don't think of themselves as disabled or handicapped "they just get on with their lives and don't feel sorry for themselves. I wish I could be as strong as my dogs.

So when you go to adopt a dog don't overlook the dog with one eye, only three legs, deaf or blind. They still have the capacity to love and don't need your sympathy" they just want someone to love them. And they'll love you back despite your unconformities.

- Peg Schaeffer

Contact us if you would like to help.

Peg Schaeffer, Sugarfoot Farm Rescue,
860 Sparksville Road
Columbia, KY 42728
Home telephone: 270-378-4521
Cell phone: 270-634-4675

This story was posted on 2013-08-22 03:22:53
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