Blind Adopted Dog Gives Back to his Shelter

Max may be blind, but he inspires others with his knack for seeing the good.

Samantha + Max

Blind adopted dog helps shelter workers combat compassion fatigue with his happy, calm demeanor.

"He was the happiest dog, despite having been through so much trauma. He’s blind, but he sees the good in everything, and that’s contagious."

I always say Max is the ultimate underdog. Found in a ditch, freezing, underweight, anemic from flea bites, and with eye infections so severe that his eyes were later removed. The shelter’s veterinarians weren’t optimistic about his recovery, but I knew I had to foster him and try everything I could.

There was something about Max’s struggle with illness and the physical setbacks he faced that made me feel connected to him. It was almost like what he was experiencing physically, I had been experiencing emotionally.

As the Feline Foster Coordinator for Front Street Animal Shelter, it’s my job to help care for over 3,500 underage kittens every year. Many of these are extremely young and fragile, and while our shelter does everything in our power to save each and every kitten, there are some that are too sick and weak for us to save. When this happens, it’s my job to help them cross the rainbow bridge. Each time, I bundle them up, hold them close to my chest, rock them and tell them that it didn’t work out this time, but that they have to come back and try again. It’s heartbreaking, to say the least.

When Max came into my life, all this was taking its toll. Combined with the sheer overwhelming number of kittens and the struggle to find enough foster homes, I was having emotional breakdowns at work pretty often.

But something magical happened when I started bringing Max to work. I’d put him on my lap, and all that sadness and stress melted away. I wasn’t sure how such a tiny, helpless puppy could be so calming, but it’s an effect he’s had not only on me, but everyone else in the shelter. He followed the sound of my voice and people’s footsteps. He was the happiest dog, despite having been through so much trauma. He’s blind, but he sees the good in everything, and that’s contagious.

I couldn’t deny our connection, so I made him a permanent member of my family. He’s come to work with me every day since, and is like our shelter’s therapy dog — people visit him all day when they just need to hold him in their arms and have their spirits lifted. No matter what kind of a day someone is having, he never fails to bring a smile to their face.

Many people who work at shelters adopt their pets. And I think those pets inspire us every day to want to help other pets at the shelter. We know they’re just like our pet, and we want them to have the same second chance at life and love that ours had.

I’m not sure I could do it without Max. I love my job, and I’m passionate about saving every kitten I possibly can. But on those days when things reach a breaking point, it’s Max that saves me. So even though I’m the one saving lives, because of his support, he’s saving lives too.

Each year, the Petco Foundation invites adopters to share the story of how their adopted pet changed their lives during the annual Holiday Wishes campaign, giving the organization that they adopted from a chance to receive a grant award. This story by Samantha won City of Sacramento Front Street Animal Shelter in Sacramento, California a 2019 Holiday Wishes award.