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Blind to Disability, She Saw the Right Dog

Elmer the dog

Barbara Musick wasn’t looking for another dog. She was still grieving the passing of her last one from cancer, and her remaining companion, Teddy, seemed to be coping as an “only child” just fine. She’d wait a few months until she got another canine, but in the meantime, she took a look now and again at potential adoptees.

“The moment I saw Elmer online, I knew he was mine,” said Barbara. The fluffy, chocolate and white cocker had come in from another shelter that didn’t have the resources to treat two painful, blind eyes and a mouth full of decay. The Dumb Friends League stepped in to remove his damaged eyes and pulled all but seven teeth in order to make Elmer more comfortable.

Barbara had owned two dogs with sight problems, each of which lost an eye to glaucoma. And two previous cocker spaniels became favorites, so “it just felt meant to be”. She slept on it one night, to be sure, then made the trip to the Quebec Street Shelter with her mother and Teddy in tow. Everyone was introduced, and she signed the paperwork.

An admitted sucker for special needs dogs, Barbara says that although Elmer was nervous about the new environment at first, some mild anti-anxiety medication soon helped him settle in his new home. The sutures in his face were removed after a week, and Elmer began “mapping” the first floor and yard. “He’s in and out the doggy door like he can actually see it!” Barbara says. Stairs are a concern, so Barbara taped bubble wrap over the carpet at the top. When Elmer’s on the second floor, he can feel and hear if he’s getting near the edge.

Elmer goes wild in anticipation of a good meal, so to keep him from bouncing off the walls, Barbara tries to get his breakfast bowl ready while he’s still snoozing on the couch. After he mows down his kibble, a few Cheerios help lure him outside for business. But if he makes a mistake indoors, Barbara doesn’t sweat it. After all Elmer’s been through, a puddle on the kitchen floor just isn’t important.

Elmer’s loving personality turned him into a crowd favorite at the League prior to his adoption. The night he came home, two handstitched blankets with a note to please give them to whoever adopted him were at his side. There was no name, but Barbara and Elmer are looking for the kind person who made them so they can send a note of thanks. Elmer snuggles in his special blankets every night.

Elmer and Teddy, a retired sled dog that Barbara adopted from the League, get along fine. They enjoy having the run of the yard and main floor all day. Barbara can watch them with a puppy cam she installed, and reports that much of Elmer’s day is spent dreaming away on the couch (check out the video evidence here). She’s looking forward to summer, when she’ll introduce Elmer to foster kittens. “He’s so gentle, I’m sure they’ll be climbing all over him in no time!”

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