I’ve had really great luck with rescue dogs, so when I was looking for a companion dog, the chance arose to adopt a rescued blind German Shepard. I thought it was the perfect opportunity for me. I looked forward to a German Shepard’s loyalty, companionship and the chance to help an animal in need. Unlike Neeko, I didn’t go into it blindly. I fully anticipated the extra labor of love it would be to ensure he was secure at all times, that he needed taught every single new environment he entered and about the extra attention to his veterinary care.
I like to think it was love at first “sight” on both our parts. I adored him and it was truly a pleasure to take the extra care of him. He latched onto me immediately as well. He slept on the floor next to my bed, his nose nudged me whenever he wanted to go out, he never asked for food or water, but took it freely when offered, and he listened to and obeyed me.
Neeko was very loyal to me immediately. And very soon I realized too loyal. When anyone was around, Neeko was on the alert and attentive to me. He would press himself against my leg, face forward and if I or he was approached or spoken to, would start a growl or bark. I had an outdoor event planned before I adopted him and didn’t want to leave him too long so brought my companion with me. I set up his own area but if my voice was out of his hearing range, he would bark incessantly until I let him know I was near. Children love big beautiful dogs and especially when they notice he’s blind, want to pet him. He growled when a couple little boys started paying attention to him. At home, when my little girl needed my attention, Neeko did not approve. One two occasions, when she simply was approaching me, he growled, barked and snapped in her direction. Without doubt, if he could have seen her, he would have bit her.
I did love and want Neeko forever, but there is no possible way I could have kept my new companion over even the possibility of a threat to my daughters.
The adopter after me doesn’t have small children and gave Neeko his own room and his own time alone not attached to her hip. Adoptee and adopter have adjusted perfectly well and are content and comfortable. I have lived and learned for the next rescue, disabled or not, that there is such thing as too much loyalty – on both our parts.
Disabled dogs are not unadoptable. Please don’t be discouraged about rescuing a special needs animal. Just as with any animal, educate yourself! Blind dogs are not 100% dependable on a caregiver: give them their own space, rules and tough love. It’s okay to discipline them, they will learn. It’s ok to push them to do things on their own, they are able. And it’s most definitely okay to adopt them ~ they need, appreciate and will reciprocate the love.