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Happy Tail: A dog rises above her special needs


Carmen Huffman reminds her friends to keep an eye on their plates when they’re over to eat, for nearby lurks a keen nose. The friends might think the plates are safe because the keen nose is attached to a blind dog, but if anything, her lack of vision makes her super nosy. The dog in question, Tootsie, is a Miniature Pinscher.

Tootsie's ears and nose help her compensate for her blindness.

Tootsie’s ears and nose help her compensate for her blindness.

Carmen’s Min Pin mix. CeeCee had died, and she knew that eventually she wanted to adopt another, but wasn’t sure when until she saw Tootsie listed on Petfinder by Internet Miniature Pinscher Service (IMPS) in Charlotte, North Carolina. The fact that Tootsie was a special needs dog gave Carmen pause.

Carmen started exchanging emails with the dog’s fosterer, who told her that the blindness didn’t slow Tootsie down, so Carmen made the decision to adopt Tootsie and hasn’t regretted it. As predicted, Tootsie gets along just fine, which includes taking advantage of unsuspecting visitors.

“She is a super cuddle bug and loves burrowing under the covers by my side,” Carmen says. “She is incredibly smart and loves going on walks or pretty much anywhere. As soon as I put on her harness, she heads straight for the front door. She also enjoys the local dog park and playing with others dogs, especially big ones.”

The main accommodation Carmen made was to buy a set of doggy steps to put beside her bed so Tootsie doesn’t have to jump up and down. “It took her about a week to learn how to use them.”

Carmen also had two rescued cats, Salem and Neko. “Salem, a.k.a. Mr. Nice Guy, seems to know she is blind and tries to help guide her around sometimes. He will walk right beside her and kind of bump her over when she is getting too close to something. It’s super cute,” Carmen says.

“I can ‘see’ her hearing and smelling,” Carmen says, “and it makes me use my own ears and nose better. If I see her listening it makes me try to figure out what she is hearing.”

Through Tootsie, Carmen has widened her own sense of the world. It’s a gift that pets, even those without special needs, give to their humans.

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