Blind Dog Teaches a Puppy to Defy the Odds

Edna’s condition made it unlikely that she’d ever walk. Then she met Gertrude.

Kindel + Edna

A foster puppy beats the odds and learns how to walk with the help of a blind dog named Gertrude.

"After months of therapy and lots of playing with Gertrude, Edna doesn’t just walk now, she runs."

Voices of Change Animal League (VOCAL) needed a foster for a puppy who couldn’t walk and was running out of options. I didn’t think much about fostering—I had the space and time, but I admit that I didn’t put much thought into it. Still, I went to the rescue to meet the pup. She tried to walk, but flopped around instead. It was evident that she didn’t have much coordination or balance. Reality kicked in and I thought, “What am I getting myself into?”

Edna the dog

I had a blind dog at home (Gertrude), but other than that I had no experience with special needs dogs. I admit a slight feeling of panic set in. The pup was so excited to meet someone new, she eventually wiggled her way to me. Although a lot seemed to be wrong, her wagging tail certainly worked. My life changed in that moment. Here was a puppy that had obvious impairments yet she was the happiest being I had ever met.

Edna the dog

I took her home and sat her in the grass, and we brought Gertrude out to meet her. Gertrude is blind, but had been a fabulous foster mom to other puppies. Still, we had no idea how she might react. Gertrude was so excited to have a new puppy to play with, she had no idea anything was out of the ordinary with Edna and immediately took to her. Edna couldn’t run after Gertrude, so Gertrude would kneel on her level to play. Edna never gave up trying to be like Gertrude. She’d take a few steps and fall over, but before I could even feel sorry for her she was right back up again.

Edna the dog

Edna was diagnosed with cerebellar hypoplasia, meaning that she essentially has no cerebellum. I was told there was no guarantee she would ever learn to walk even with intense therapy. How could I give up on her if she wasn’t willing to give up on herself? After months of therapy and lots of playing with Gertrude, Edna doesn’t just walk now, she runs. Edna will always be wobbly, but she has absolutely defied the odds. I truly believe her best therapy was having Gertrude as a friend. Gertrude never saw Edna as a disabled puppy, and she did not limit herself when playing with Edna. Instead she adjusted and she taught us to do the same. These two have inspired me with their perseverance to view life’s challenges as simple obstacles; adjust and conquer. Thanks to them I now have three special needs cats added to the family as well.

Family with dogs

Edna has taught me a valuable lesson: You’re only as limited as you allow yourself to be. Gertrude taught me a lesson, too: be blind to others’ outward appearances and look at what they have to offer in life. Together they’ve showed me that a best friend can help get you through anything.

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 Kindel won Voices of Change Animal League in Florida a 2018 Holiday Wishes award.

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