Greta was not blind or paralyzed when she joined our family nearly five years ago. Even though
she has lost her sight and mobility since then, we will never give up on her. This precious
spirit is kin to us; a cherished family member who we will continue to accept and love no
matter what limitations she faces.
In the fall of 2005 my husband finally gave in
and agreed to fulfill my dream of getting a Dachshund. We turned to breed rescue and
found Greta through Coast to Coast Dachshund rescue (www.c2cdr.org). Although she was being fostered
in Ohio and we were in Western New York at the time, Greta looked like she would be the
perfect fit for us. I noticed that her profile had been posted nearly six months
previously and I was worried that she might have prospective adopters
already lined up to take her home. Within a few hours of sending my initial email,
however, I learned the sad truth: Greta’s foster mom reported that not a single person
had been in touch to inquire about this charming senior girl who was estimated to be
around 12 years old. That decided it for us – Greta was going to join our
Since then, Greta has lost the use of her hind
legs due to a spinal injury and cataracts have taken her vision. Although these setbacks
have presented challenges, it has been surprisingly easy to adapt to Greta’s changing
needs. A doggie stroller and sling allow her to cruise with us on walks and errands.
Whatever we do – taking road trips, visiting the beach, canoeing, going to the drive-in –
Greta does it with us.
She seems to enjoy using her sense of smell
and her hearing in different environments, and when she sniffs out a new human friend,
she’ll indulge them with a long licking session. Her appetite is HUGE and we try to mix
it up by offering different tastes and textures (ice cream is one of her favorites this
time of year!). We also make it a point to offer “enrichment exercises” in the form of
kongs and treats embedded inside sealed toilet paper tubes. I highly recommend this kind
of stimulation for anyone with a blind and/or otherwise disabled dog.
Occasionally, someone will skeptically
question us about Greta’s quality of life. People who don’t have experience with special
needs animals tend to focus on their own feelings of helplessness or pity when they
encounter them. Animals, however, are far more resilient than we give them credit for.
Greta isn’t focused on her limitations. Instead, she lives as a perfect little Buddhist –
fully present in each moment without looking back or ahead.
Now that our girl is somewhere around age 17,
we know our days together are dwindling. My heart already breaks imagining life without
her. Greta is a blessing and she has taught me so much about courage, perseverance, and
unconditional love. Her precious spirit has made an impact that is sure to grace our
To learn more about Greta and her three-legged
brother, Dewey, visit my disabled dog advocacy blog: www.reboundhounds.blogspot.com
Story by Katja Geldhof