Photo by Michael Buckelew
Rockdale County Animal Care and Control Director Ciji Baker only calls Lori Todd, a volunteer with For Paw's Sake, under three circumstances -- if she has a pregnant or nursing mother, if an animal needs to be bottle fed, or if there is a special-needs case.
A little black Lab mix puppy recently fit the latter category.
When the abandoned puppy showed up at animal control, Baker noticed that she held her head funny and paced back and forth, Todd said. When Todd examined her, she thought, "visual impairment."
Then it was off to the vet's office where the diagnosis proved a little more severe -- the puppy is completely blind.
"We discerned together that it was a brain injury that she was probably not born with or she would not have made it past two or three weeks," Todd said. "This has got to be the result of trauma, abuse or an accident."
Beyond being blind, the puppy is perfectly healthy and up for adoption through For Paw's Sake, a local nonprofit animal rescue organization. She is being fostered by Todd.
After having her only a week, Todd said Elizabeth Joy, named by her students at Young Americans Christian School where she teaches, is thriving. She's learned to navigate the furniture in Todd's house. She can scoot down the steps "surf board style," Todd said, putting her front legs out and dropping her back legs behind her.
"The child rocks. She is amazing," said Todd, who admits she has a soft spot for special-needs animals. "It's been so great to watch her transformation from a lethargic animal to one that acts like a puppy."
Todd is the owner of a visually impaired dog and another dog with only three functioning legs. She said special-needs animals adapt well to their surroundings. Her semi-blind dog rings bells hung at the door when she wants to go outside. Her other dog walks just fine on three legs, she said.
Elizabeth Joy is learning to respond to voice commands and is in the process of being housebroken, Todd said. As is the case with most puppies, she enjoys squeaky toys.
She would do well with other animals, both dogs and cats, Todd said, and children would be a bonus.
"Elizabeth Joy needs a family with kids because she wants to play," she said. "She needs a fenced-in yard because she runs like a kangaroo."
The puppy also requires a family willing to invest time and effort into her care.
"Everybody wants the cute little cuddly puppy for Christmas. They've got to understand that the puppy is going to grow up and chew and poop on the floor and that the time you spend with a puppy directly influences the type of full-grown dog you have," Todd said.
She said Elizabeth Joy cannot be an outdoor-only dog.
"She sleeps with us at night and she likes it. She loves to sleep next to a warm body," Todd said.
Todd said the family who adopts Elizabeth Joy will have to use common sense when arranging her accommodations, such as placing items like food and water bowls in the same place so she can find them.
The adoption fee for Elizabeth Joy is $150, which includes a deworming, shots, microchipping and a spay. Since the spay must occur before she is adopted out, it's doubtful Elizabeth Joy could join a family before Christmas.
But, if the right family came along, they could take a photo and present it at Christmas, Todd said.
"With the special needs there comes that special love," Todd said. "I feel like they're only handicapped if they don't have a home or they don't have a family to call their own or to love them."
To learn more about adopting Elizabeth Joy or other pets rescued through the For Paw's Sake organization, e-mail email@example.com or go to www.forpawssake.org.