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Rhett

Rhett was observed running in a neighborhood for about a week with his pal Scarlett. They are a bonded pair. He was eventually caught and brought to AEAR. He is outgoing and friendly and would make a great pet.He is...

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A Dream and a Vision

A Dream and a Vision Many people have described me as a visionary. I would have to agree. Sounds fancy, I even like the way the word rolls off my tongue but there is so much more to the word and...

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Blog

Adopt the Handicapped

Date:
April 25, 2007
Posted By:
Sandy Kamen Wisniewski
If you would have told me five years ago that some day I would take in a deaf, blind-in-one eye, hyperactive dog I would have responded, "Very funny." But being the huge-hearted, jump-in-without-looking-first person, if anyone would do such a thing it would be me. Then came Braille.

A year ago, Braille found herself tied to a pole outside by the only owner she ever knew at a shelter in Kankakee, Illinois. I can't even imagine what she must have felt when she saw her owner walk away. After what must have been a terrifying night she was discovered the next morning and was brought into the shelter.

One volunteer in particular fell in love with the beautiful snow-white pup with the blue-gray patches around her eyes and the perfectly pink nose. In short order they realized she was deaf and their hearts sank. She had no chance of getting adopted in that area. Her only hope was that a rescue group would take her in.

I happened to be on the phone talking to the shelter director about another matter when she asked me if we would take this handicapped pup they named Braille. How hard could it be? I thought. My heart has always opened just a little bigger for the underdogs, so I agreed without hesitation.

I spoiled Braille from day one. I felt so sorry for her I refused to crate her, I reasoned that it would limit her already limited senses more. So basically she did whatever she wanted. Over time (months I have to admit) she had destroyed countless apparently delicious TV controllers, broken plates, cups, etc. by pulling them off the kitchen counters where they smashed to the ground, chewed on my husband's custom made kitchen molding and cabinets and pooped and peed all over my house. She was either non-stop moving or dead asleep, nowhere in between.

She had this loud, raspy woo-woo-woo bark that she would do when she was excited or playing hard with one of the other dogs. She also had this tortured animal sound she made when playing with another dog. I had to make sure visitors knew no one was dying in the other room. She was draining me and my family resented me for bringing her home. I realized that feeling sorry for her wasn't good for anyone.

I began crating her when I couldn't watch her and was diligent about supervising her when she was out of her crate. I reinforced her basic commands and taught her to come, only possible when her one working eye was watching me. She went to agility class, where she excelled. She learned that a wag of my finger in her face and a grimace meant she was being naughty. She responded well to everything I taught her. I was amazed at her abilities. She followed cues from my dogs such as when I call my dogs inside she follows their lead and trailed in.

We took her to the dog park where she ran her sassy butt off and played enthusiastically with every dog she met. When we were getting ready to leave I laughed and laughed as I watched my husband Chuck trot after Braille as she followed some other family down a path. "Can you catch that dog?" I yelled at the family she was following. "She's deaf." Caught she looked at the stranger as if to say, "Hey, what's up?" Then when Chuck finally caught up and grabbed her collar she looked at him and could have said, "Dad! Hey buddy, good to see you. This is a blast."

Having Braille has been very difficult but I do not regret saving her from death. All her faults don't out weigh what she brings to my life and what I hope someday she will share with her forever family. She has a silly, confident, I'm-all-that attitude about everything in life. I have never seen her sulk or be in a bad mood.

She accepts everyone (canine and human alike) without hesitation. Further, if she can live her life to the fullest, with her limitations, shouldn't we all? Lastly, at the end of a long, exhausting day nothing feels better than when Braille crawls into my lap and leans flush against me as I stroke her ever-so-soft coat. She looks at me with that one working, sweet icy blue eye and I know she is saying from her heart to mine, "Hey, thanks Mom. You're pretty great too."

UPDATE: October 2008
Braille has been adopted! She is also featured in our new book, The Animal Warrior

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