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Rescued from a hoarding situation, once-feral and now-blind Betty learned to trust again and now lives a happy, healthy life.
When Chrisa Hickey set out to foster a neglected and un-socialized Silky Terrier rescued from a hoarding situation, she had no idea that the very frightened, partially blind little dog would so easily worm her way into her home — and her heart — forever!
“We are a volunteer foster family for a Silky Terrier rescue. In October 2013, the rescue asked its foster families if they could help out a rescue group in Oklahoma that needed to place more than 70 dogs confiscated from a hoarding situation. Twelve of the dogs were Silky Terriers, and there weren’t enough foster homes in Oklahoma for all of them. All 12 of them were feral — they had lived their entire lives in an outdoor chain-link enclosure, with food occasionally thrown over the fence and onto the ground for the 70 dogs to scavenge. When the dogs were rescued, they were all underweight and covered in seed ticks. They had to be shaved bald to clean up the ticks and their skin issues, and all needed to be altered. Once they were medically stable, they needed foster homes.
Several of the Silkies were flown to the Northwest, but there were two who were still waiting in Oklahoma. Another foster mom and I jumped in the car and drove from Chicago to just outside of Oklahoma City to pick up the two stragglers. They didn’t have names, just a letter that had been tattooed into their ears when they were spayed to tell them apart. I was immediately drawn to the pup with the letter “B” tattooed in her ear. I was told she was the smallest of the 12 Silkies, and I noticed she didn’t seem to be able to see all that well. When I tried to touch her, she tried to run and hide in corners, but she never made a sound. She weighed 8 pounds and had just a 1/4 inch of hair all over her body. I scooped her up and put her into a crate in the car; she seemed more comfortable in the crate.
When we got home, my husband named her Betty. We set up the crate in our family room, and she wouldn’t leave it. If our dogs came near the crate, she would bare her teeth, soundlessly. A checkup at our vet’s office confirmed that she was completely blind in her right eye, and that her left eye had limited vision. I started feeding her by hand to try to get her to come out of the crate. Eventually she did, but she would take a morsel of food and run to a corner to eat it before venturing out to find another. It took another month before she would sit with us on the sofa. In another few weeks, she let us pet and hold her. I started taking her with me all over town, with her soundlessly curled up in the crook of my elbow.
Several prospective adoptive families met Betty, but all were nervous about adopting a dog with such limited vision, so after five months, we decided Betty should stay with us. The remaining vision in her left eye was going, and near the first anniversary of her rescue it was determined that she was totally blind in both eyes. But by then she’d also gained 2 pounds, her skin and hair were healthy, and she was starting to seek out affection.
Now, three years after I picked her up in Oklahoma, Betty is my “Velcro pup.” She starts her day by crawling up our bed for scratches and love from my husband and me. She jumps and dances for joy when I come home from work. She curls up and naps with her Silky-mix sister, Sydney. She is house trained and begs for table scraps. Betty is beautiful, affectionate, happy, and an important member of our family. We can’t imagine life without her!”
There’s nothing like the power of love to heal all wounds, and Betty’s story is proof of that. It’s OK, Chrisa, foster failing happens to the best of us!
A devoted dog mom, journalist, and animal activist, Lisa uses her writing to spread awareness about animal welfare and cruelty issues. She lives in Atlanta with two spoiled German Shepherds, one entitled Pug, and a very understanding husband. Read more of her work at her blog and website, and follow her on Twitter.
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