Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Are Mexican Mutts Worth The Effort?

Yes, and so are the people who adopt them.

Below find a letter to which was attached an application for “Amber,” a Shetland Sheepdog mix found on the Save A Mexican Mutt (SAMM) website: www.samm.petfinder.org.

My household is made up of me and my husband, his retired dog guide, a 12-year old lab named Nathan and his working guide dog, a 3-year old German Shepherd named Tarby. My husband is totally blind and is currently on his 7th dog guide. I am legally blind, totally blind one eye, and also totally deaf in my right ear.

We believe we are responsible dog owners. We take our dogs to the vet on a regular and as-needed basis. We adopted a Greyhound/Britney Spaniel mix that followed my husband home from the grocery store when we lived in San Antonio, Texas. We had her altered and moved her with us to Albuquerque, New Mexico in 2000. Unfortunately, she became very ill in December 2005 and we had to have her put down in April 2006. We still miss her greatly as she was a wonderful dog.

On July 3, 2007, I had to have my wonderful dog guide Silka (who turned 7 that day) put down due to heart cancer. I am still dealing with my grief over her. I think I will always miss the dogs that come into my life but time does make it easier to deal with the grief.

We feed our dogs twice daily. Both boys are on allergy meds. Due to us being blind, we take our dogs out on leash so we can pick up after them and also know if they try to pick anything up in the yard. We live in a mobile home and have a fence on each side and a large redwood deck that is gated. We can all be on the deck together and enjoy the outdoors. We also often brush our dogs out on the deck as we are trained to do that for our dog guides.

Amber would need to be an inside dog due to our circumstances and also be able to get along well with our other dogs. Dog guides are trained from the time they are born to be around people and animals so I don't believe there will be a problem with the boys.

Due to my problems with hearing now, I have decided to have a pet rather than a dog guide. I do not get out too much by myself as far as shopping, doctor appointments, and grocery shopping since I cannot tell where sound comes from thus making it very hard to cross a street by myself safely. This means I would not be able to really work a dog guide like he needs to be worked but I can still walk a dog in our neighborhood.

I went and got Silka before I lost my hearing so we sort of learned things together. We clicked from the moment we worked together which does not normally happen as it usually takes six months to a year to build the kind of teamwork between a person and their animal guide. Silka was special and I am not sure I would ever have that experience again. I always wait between my guide dogs, as I do not want to compare one to the other. All dogs are special in their own ways.

My husband's dog guide, Tarby, sleeps on my husband's side of the bed on the floor. He has a foam pad (about 1" thick) with another dog bed on top. Old Nathan sleeps on the bed now. I figure he has earned it.

Thank you for any information you can send me on Amber.

When Kelly followed up by telephone with this kind woman the lady was concerned that we would not want to adopt a dog to a blind person. Kelly assured her that was not the case but asked how long Amber would be left by herself during the day, a standard question asked everyone. The lady replied, “Oh, I am home all the time except once a week when I get together with other blind ladies for a few hours and crochet things that we sell to help those in need.”

Those in need . . .

Here is a woman who has seen her husband go blind. Then she went blind. Now she is almost deaf. She lives in a mobile home park. Yet, with all her challenges, her interests are her animals, and those “in need,” and, yes, in a Mexican dog off the streets named Amber.

She doesn’t recognize herself as one “in need.” We should all be so brave as we face our challenges, ones that mostly pale in comparison to those with real challenges, those like this ‘blind lady’ as she refers to herself -- those who are strong enough to accept their challenges without complaint and who look beyond themselves to others.

I am reminded of something Og Mandino said many years ago, “Never again clutter your days or nights with so many menial and unimportant things that you have no time to accept a real challenge when it comes along. This applies to play as well as work. A day merely survived is no cause for celebration. You are not here to fritter away your precious hours when you have the ability to accomplish so much by making a slight change in your routine. No more busy work. No more hiding from success. Leave time, leave space, to grow. Now. Now! Not tomorrow!”


We leave Mexico on August 24 on our way to Dallas, Texas to bring as many dogs as we can get adopted along the way, after which Kelly will then drive Amber to her new forever home along with others to foster homes in Albuquerque and Santa Fe, New Mexico. If you want to leave time, leave space, to grow, to help those “in need” and can provide a forever home to one of SAMM’s wonderful animals, please see www.samm.petfinder.org and let us hear from you. Thank you.