I first met O'Malley, then named Stache, at the Green Lake Humane Society, in Wisconsin. I had
done some volunteer work there in the past, and had dropped by while on a shopping trip to
donate a few items for the pets awaiting homes. At no time did I have any intention of adopting
another pet, much less a large blind dog who had no training on how to be an indoor pet, as his
almost year year long life had been spent living outdoors.
Fate, however, saw a sucker in me and forced me into taking a sneak peek at the dogs up for
adoption. I frowned a little as I quickly realized all the dogs were being kept for the day in
the outside run, as it was a beautiful sunny day. I had almost turned back, deciding to nose
around the cat-room, when someone caught my eye. It was a white dog, with large brown spots,
that had pushed himself to the rear of his cage out of fear. His legs were spread far apart and
he shook, his head bobbing. I crouched down, trying to make myself look less intimidating, and
spoke to him in a gentle voice. He began barking at me, pushing his body further away from me,
and more into the corner of his kennel. Not wanting to scare him anymore than I obviously was,
I stood up to leave him be, when I glanced at his cage-card. The words jumped out at me as I
read the big bold letters, "I"M BLIND!" My heart sank as I looked back at him, knowing his
chances at finding a home were not going to be in his favor. Big dogs are hard enough to find
homes for, even with a dedicated staff like at this particular shelter, but a blind dog, I knew
he would probably not be so fortunate. I was never one to see an animal in a bad situation, and
not try to help it as best I could. The thought of this dog was going to bother me for a long
time to come.
I left the dog in peace, and went to get more information on him. The girl I spoke with
immediately began telling me his story, and she seemed anxious to stop any concerns I had about
possibly bringing him home with me. I grew more leery the more I heard. He was kept outside all
of his life. The three dogs I already had were indoor pets, and used to such a life. Keeping a
dog outside on a chain or in a pen never appealed to me. How could I sleep in a warm home when
my dog was outside shivering? I never bought into the fact a barn or doghouse was a warm enough
place for a dog to sleep. Besides, dogs are pack animals, they WANT to be close to you. I
wasn't sold on the fact this dog would know how to live inside a home. Also, he was an intact
male. I had a male, fixed, in my home already. Would they fight? And then there was the special
needs side to it all. I wasn't afraid of the extra work it would take caring for a dog that was
blind, and of course I could keep myself from rearranging furniture so he knew where things
were, but I was worried that I couldn't keep myself from feeling that pit in my stomach of pity
for him. Was he suffering? How could I watch him, everyday, knowing he was blind and missing
out on so much? Everytime he bonked into something at the shelter, a wall, a fence, my legs, I
felt this sadness. I just didn't know how to see it everyday.
Three days later, after I had allowed my three dogs to meet "Stache," I was bringing him home.
And I came to find out that the work I expected to put into him wasn't half as much as I
thought it would be. As far as potty training went, my dogs took on that responsibility, and
within days, he was waiting to go outside like the rest of them. He spent most of his time
either sleeping, eating, or playing with the dogs toy box to get into any mischief, so there
was another concern gone. And, after time, I realized that (Stache, renamed O'Malley by this
time) could see, just in a different way. He saw by memorizing, sensing, and trial and error.
Either way he choose, it worked for him, and my pity dissolved and was replaced with respect
and an over abundance of love.
A couple of months after his adoption, I had invited a friend over to my home to show her how
to download a certain program on a computer, so she could do the same on hers. Always being a
scented candle nut, I lit a cinnamon candle and sat down with her in the other room to begin my
lesson. After a few minutes, we both stopped, at the same time, and asked each other if they
smelled smoke. At that time, the smoke detector sounded off.
We both ran to my living room seeing my couch, and the fire! I called 911 and soon my living
room was a bit on the crispy side. Thankfully, my pets were unharmed during this excitement.
The best we can figure out is O'Malley (yes, I hate to blame the blind dog, but it's the most
reasonable guess) must have bonked into the living room coffee table, knocking over the candle,
which rolled onto the throw blanket, and starting it and my couch on fire. And yes, I do laugh
about it now because how can you not? Noone was hurt and material items can always be replaced.
I just realize now how dumb humans can be. I guess I didn't blind-dog-proof my home.
O'Malley, the little fire starter, is now at my feet, sound asleep, inches from his swordfish
toy (his favorite) while I write this. In the time I have had him, he has shown me what it
means to make the best with what you have. O'Malley has no idea what seeing is, and if you ask
him, he would probably tell you he isn't missing out on a thing.
This past spring I was walking him and a woman stopped to talk with me, petting O'Malley,
telling me how much she loved dogs. When I told her he was blind, she recoiled, pulling her
hand away from his head. "He should be put down, a dog like that." She said. "I can't stand to
see animals suffer and that's what he is, suffering, put that dog to sleep!" She than looked at
me as if I was dirt, and hustled herself away. I watched her walk away, and I think O'Malley
would join me when I thought to myself, "Honey, your the blind one and someone ought to put you
to sleep for stupidity!"
To see a blind dog may be a little overwhelming in the sympathy department. But take the time
to get to know them. They aren't in need of your pity or sympathy. They are just in need of
love. They require the same as a dog that can see. That and an owner who keeps the scented
candles out of blind dog reach!
Adopt a blind dog today! Your life will have more sight!
Miranda Riane and O'Malley