Column about our new dog Chester, blinded by a shotgun blast to the face, but rescued by Tootsie'
Blind dog inspires a vision of hope
By Joline Gutierrez Krueger / Journal
Published: Saturday, March 5th, 2016 at 12:02am
Updated: Saturday, March 5th, 2016 at 9:37pm
Ed Goodman gives a treat to Chester, a blind dog he rescued from a Roswell shelter. Chester was blinded by buckshot fired in his face. (Adolphe Pierre-Louis/Albuquerque Journal)
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Ed Goodman hangs out with five of seven dogs that call Corrales home. “We’re known as the dog guys,” Goodman says of himself and his partner, Ennio Garcia-Miera. (Adolphe Pierre-Louis/Albuquerque Journal)
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — They follow us like a cloud of paw and tail and snout, a happy bunch of ragtag pups that have the run of a home deep in the rural reaches of Corrales.
As we settle in to the dining room, the seven canines settle in, too, curled on the floor, occasionally sniffing at this stranger who has come into their midst. Now and then, they are rousted by a crow flying past or the gobble of the turkeys penned outside. Mostly, though, they sleep, one dog snoring loudly.
I try to keep the names of all seven straight. That, of course, is easy for Ed Goodman, a disability lawyer who shares the home with the dogs and with partner Ennio Garcia-Miera, a Corrales village councilor.
“Here’s Ozzie, who came from Clovis,” Goodman says of a scruffy gray terrier and alleged snorer. “He was on death row until he was rescued. And that’s Ziggy. He was a half-hour from being euthanized in Santa Fe. They said he was unsocialized, abandoned in a backyard. But look at him. He’s the nicest dog.”
He goes on. There’s Alex, whose owners tossed her away when she got older. Lupe, the diabetic alpha dog, a blue heeler mix rescued from an Albuquerque shelter as a puppy and the star of Goodman’s first novel, “Manzanita Seed.”
It’s not immediately apparent that among this happy pack are three dogs that are blind.
Rescuing blind dogs has become a mission for Goodman, the founder of Tootsie’s Vision, a nonprofit that helps find homes for sightless dogs, raises funds for their medical care and increases awareness for what great pets they make.
The project is named after a beloved dog that resided with Goodman and Garcia-Miera until her death last March. She had been abandoned years before on a Corrales road, her sight already lost to retinal atrophy. In her, Goodman found inspiration.
More to seeLearn more about the work being done for blind dogs at Tootsie’s Vision at tootsiesvision.org, on Facebook or 505-440-3208.
“Stanley and Porkchop,” written and illustrated by Ed Goodman, is available through online book retailers such as Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Goodman is also interested providing the book to schools and libraries and is available to talk about the book. Contact him through Tootsie’s Vision.
“A wide-eyed, high-stepping, tongue-lolling, unseeing Tootsie – a mongrel with no sight and no sadness, abandoned and unwanted – has presented me with the most precious gifts I have ever received,” he wrote in a local news article. “Perspective, reflection and gratitude.”
And so there is Stanley, a comely, one-eyed Australian shepherd born blind and unwanted on the Navajo reservation. And Porkchop, a chubby, stubby-legged, sightless pooch abandoned in Arizona.
Stanley and Porkchop became fast friends, Goodman says, the two never more than a sniff or a bark away from each other, their story told in an eponymous children’s book Goodman wrote and illustrated.
And now, there is Chester, the dog I especially came to meet. I heard about him through a series of urgent messages sent out on Facebook through several local and national animal rescue groups – including Blind/Deaf Shelter Dogs Networking, Kita Angel Network and Roswell Urgent Animals – and shared by a dedicated bunch of folks working together to save animals from being euthanized.
Chester was randomly named Triumph then, a white and tan German shepherd-cross male, about a year old, the occupant of Cage 10 at the Roswell municipal animal shelter. He had been blasted in the face with buckshot, his eyes swollen shut and infected, some of the pellets still embedded in his torn muzzle and forehead. He was in pain and untreated and was likely headed for euthanasia because his wounds were so significant, the postings said.
“THERE IS NO TIME TO HESITATE HERE!!!” screamed one post, dated Feb. 14.
Three days later and with the help of donations raised through Tootsie’s Vision, the newly christened Chester was pulled from the shelter, treated by a veterinarian and brought home.
Two weeks later, it’s as if Chester had always been home here. He is friendly, sweet, making his way around as easily as his sighted pals.
“He’s happy, secure and calm,” Goodman says. “He fit right in.”
Blind dogs, he says, make better pets than you might imagine. They compensate for their lack of sight by relying more on their senses of smell and hearing. They commit to memory the terrain of their surroundings. They are courageous and capable and are not sorry for themselves.
That last part was the grand lesson for Goodman, who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis six years ago. The disease sapped him of energy and muscle strength. It left him occasionally forgetful, tongue-tied, dizzy, weak, depressed.
“I was bitter, angry, obsessed about the things I could no longer do,” he says. “But these dogs showed me to focus, like they do, not on what I can’t do but what I can do.”
So he does.
Soon, Goodman says, he hopes to spread the word of Tootsie’s Vision by making appearances with Chester at schools, club meetings, community centers and anybody who wants to learn more about the beauty of blind dogs, to listen to the story of “Stanley and Porkchop,” to realize that even blind dogs deserve a chance at a forever home and that sometimes it’s not what we see that matters most, but what we feel.
UpFront is a daily front-page news and opinion column. Comment directly to Joline at 823-3603, firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter @jolinegkg. Go to ABQjournal.com/letters/new to submit a letter to the editor.