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Keep up with the latest news, volunteer spotlights, blind dog information, and upcoming events and fundraisers. 

American Humane Hero Dog Awards

by Kristen Strouse

On Wednesday 9/13, representatives from the American Humane Hero Dog awards came to Perkasie to film a video about me and about Raina winning the National Emerging Hero/Shelter Dog Award. Raina is 1 of 5 winners. The other categories include a military dog, a service dog, a therapy dog, and a law enforcement dog. At 13, Raina is the oldest of the 5 winners. Raina is also the first blind & deaf double merle Aussie to win this award. Raina now has a 1 in 5 chance to be the overall hero dog winner. But no matter what happens Raina is already a winner in her category.

As part of the Hero Dog awards visit to Perkasie I held an event at my local church called Pups & Pipes. Music and dogs have always been a huge part of my life. I’ve been a member of my church since I was 5 years old and it was one of the places I learned to sing. Our church is in the process of restoring the original pipe organ. Raina raised close to $700 at the event - with the possibility of more donation pledges. Half of the donation money will go to BDRA and half will go to the pipe organ restoration. 

Raina may be blind & deaf, but Raina likes to be seen & heard and she definitely piped up for this event. Raina greeted visitors, collected donations, and handed out paw-tographs. We had children in the community offer to sell lemonade & cookies. A huge thank you to long time BDRA volunteer Rose for all of her help!

The awards ceremony and Raina’s video will be broadcast on Thanksgiving and Thanksgiving weekend on the FYI and A&E network.

You can view Raina’s Emerging Hero/Shelter Dog profile on the American Humane Hero Dog Facebook page:  Raina Emerging Hero/Shelter Dog

Here are some photos from our Pups & Pipes event. Never underestimate the power of a cute sweet special needs dog & a donation jar.Pups & Pipes

Thank you all!
Kristen & Raina

Volunteer Get-Together

BDRA's volunteers are spread far and wide. We often never meet in person and know each other through emails and phone calls regarding rescue activities.A few of our favorite people and pets recently made it a point to visit with each other.

Front row (left to right): Elliot with Oliver, Deb with Iggy & Isles
Back row (left to right): Jen with Chip, Merry & Buttercup, Tammy with Bandit & Little Fox, Elizabeth with Cashew, Sheila with Jenna

Bailey is a STAR

Bailey made it all the way to the US Senate today!! His pet therapy program is raising awareness on the benefits of therapy dogs and the event was called "Meet the Pets" 😆  

He was the star, as usual. And last week we presented before 150 second graders at an elementary school about dogs with disabilities. He's doing great work! 

The Quest to Find Blind Dogs a Home

03 Feb 2015 | Written by Freshpet

In 1999 Karen Belfi adopted a blind dog, and after some research she landed on an online support group for blind dog owners. It became a resource for advice as well as a lasting network of pet parent friends. But after years of seeing emails about blind dogs that needed homes, she decided to turn those leads into rescues. 

In 2009, Karen founded the Blind Dog Rescue Alliance (BDRA) with some of her fellow support group members. Within 3 to 4 months they had 30 dogs who needed homes. Some of the dogs sent through to BDRA are blind in one or both eyes, while others have eye conditions that need treating. With donations they are able to get the medical treatment these dogs need that can cost over $1,500 per case, and then prepare the dogs to find homes. To date they have rescued over 400 dogs and work with more than 100 volunteers that foster them in homes across Pennsylvania and New Jersey. 

We first learned about Karen and her efforts when she wrote on our Facebook wall and told us about Sam, the 410th dog they have rescued. He was having trouble walking on a leash, and walking down stairs was daunting for him. Karen, looking for a delicious reward to motivate him, found Freshpet. The quiet and nervous dog now gets excited when he hears a bag of Roasted Meals open, and walks confidently down stairs. We've since sent Sam his favorite meal as well as some other recipes to try. 

Karen shares, that blind pets are not as difficult as one would imagine. There are some hurdles and different ways of communicating, but they thrive just like other pets. "We become more upset about their blindness than they do. They just carry on fantastically," Karen says. 

For example, one of her rescues, a Siberian Husky had her eye removed. By the next day she was running around and using her halo-collar to play with the other dogs. "It's not the end of the world. They can have a healthy life like any other dog." The Blind Dog Rescue Alliance is on a quest to show possible pet owners that blind dogs can be a wonderful addition to families and help them find homes. 

The Joy and Heartbreak of Fostering 

by Jacqueline Rotteveel 

“Oh, bless your heart! I could never foster – I love them too much to give them away…”

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard that and similar comments when I tell people I foster. At first, it seems like a compliment of some sort, and maybe it’s meant to be one, but I always feel a little bad after hearing that. Like somehow, I don’t love my fosters enough because I “give them away.”

Love isn’t really something that can be measured or qualified. It’s such a subjective thing. But it’s a thing at the core of our being. For all creatures. We may not be able to define it or measure it, but we sure know it when we see it.

The Many Ways Fosters and Volunteers Show Love

I’ve seen fosters leave the comfort of their homes and families every couple of hours to go and care for a kitten recovering in isolation at our adoption center. Refusing to accept a bad outcome, nursing that floof ball to health with food, medicine, fuzzy play balls, and plenty of warm hugs and kisses.

I know fosters who spend countless days with cats so traumatized and withdrawn no one would ever have looked at them twice or considered adopting them. Yet, with a thoughtful plan of care, they have given that cat a sense of safety and security and allowed it a second chance to consider humans good enough to live with and be adopted.

I know fosters whose cars always have a kennel in them for transporting kittens to vet appointments, for rescuing a stray kitten found by the side of a road, for picking up a surrendered senior cat whose owner just died, for walking into shelters and coming out with a shutdown, overwhelmed cat left too long in overcrowded cages.

There are volunteers here at Karma Cat + Zen Dog who come in twice a day to clean and feed the resident cats at the adoption center. That’s all they do. They scoop litter boxes, and mop floors, and get smelly cat food on their fingers.

There are volunteers who “just” come in to socialize with the resident cats. And while it may look like it’s all fun and games, it is part of a larger very well-thought-out plan of care. To help these cats see humans as fun and safe, to give them the right amount of stimulation and age-appropriate recreation so that when their adopter comes through the doors, they are ready to go home.

There are volunteers who work tirelessly and invisibly behind the curtain, raising money, keeping track of every little detail of a cat’s life waiting for a home, and making the magic work.

The Bittersweet and Best Part of it all: the Goodbye 

Then there is the day that we ALL wait for with bated breath. The day when our foster cat is ready and their adopter walks through the door. That’s the moment we have all worked so hard for. The adopter picks up the four-legged ball of floof and brings them to their very own home. And along with that little ball of floof, the adopter also takes countless hours of worry and love, laughter and concern with them. Hours of hopes and dreams for something better. Our foster cats are front-loaded with more love than any one person could give because they have been cared for by the Karma Cat + Zen Dog tribe. And it has been our honor and privilege. And, yes, it does culminate in the sad but joyous goodbye.

We love them too much to hold onto them. We love them enough to find them their very own person and their very own home. We love them so much that we let them go, only to turn and begin all over again with the next kitty, waiting behind a bush, an empty apartment, or a crowded metal cage. We love them too much NOT to let them go…

  Published with permission

BDRA in the News

CC and Claire

A Day in the Life of a Hospice Caretaker

by Debbie Marks   
Contributor Debbie Marks volunteers and fosters dogs for the Blind Dog Rescue Alliance (BDRA), a Grey Muzzle grantee. A grant from The Grey Muzzle Organization helps BDRA provide medical care for permanent fosters, including some of Debbie's past and current hospice foster dogs.

On the day I write this, it is my summer vacation. I’m a teacher, and when my students want to distract me, they ask about my dogs. When I reflect upon the school year ahead, I wonder if my new students will figure that out.I realize I use some of the same language with my students as I do with my dogs. It works for both.

I currently have six dogs here. Watson, a Schnauzer, Tiki, a Pomeranian/ Chihuahua, and CC, a Chihuahua, are former Blind Dog Rescue Alliance foster dogs whom I've adopted.  Grayson, an Australian Shepherd Mix, is a fairly new Blind Dog Rescue Alliance foster dog who is currently up for adoption (and who I will adopt a few weeks from now), and two, Kimi and Claire, are Blind Dog Rescue Alliance Forever Fosters on comfort/hospice care, most generously helped by a Grey Muzzle Organization grant.                            

For this post, Grey Muzzle has asked me to describe a day in the life of a hospice or permanent foster caretaker. Hospice or permanent fostering provides a home and care for homeless dogs who are very old or very ill and ​will not be placed for adoption. Some of these dogs may also have mobility problems, be incontinent, or have difficulty eating​.  And while it may be difficult and truly heartbreaking at times, loving and caring for these special dogs means the world to me.​  My days start out very early, as I wake up around 3:30 or 4:00 am and head downstairs to check on Kimi. Kimi potties around then, and I try to catch her as quickly as possible so that she doesn't track her poop around or go back to sleep in anything but her bed. She does not wear diapers because she urinates more than once overnight, and it is tough on her tender skin.  

Click photo to watch video.

Blind Dog Rescue Educates the Public

The 'Blind Dog Rescue Alliance' hosted a meet and greet at 'That Fish Place.. That Pet Place.'  The goal is to work with owners and educate the public about blind dogs. Just because they're blind or have vision difficulties doesn't mean they're any less of a great pet. So, it's just very important because they're getting a whole second chance of life, so it's a wonderful, wonderful thing,” said volunteer Diana Baum.
Since 2009, 'BDRA' has rescued over 600 visually impaired dogs across the US and Canada.

October 2, 2022
WGAL, Jeremy Jenkins

News Coverage of Adoption Event

Blind Dogs See With Their Heart

Contributor Debbie Marks volunteers and fosters dogs for Blind Dog Rescue Alliance (BDRA). BDRA is dedicated to helping blind and visually impaired dogs by rescuing dogs in shelters, assisting blind dog owners, and educating the public about these wonderful dogs. They receive a grant from Grey Muzzle to help with medical care for adoptable dogs, as well as long-term care. 

When I got my first dogs eight years ago, I never imagined where it would lead!

I didn’t buy my first home until I was in my 40s, having rented prior to that. But I knew it was time to settle down, and I found the perfect home in upstate New York down the street from where I teach. I fenced in the yard and began looking for a dog. I was going to fill my home with dogs! So in came the rescued Bichons … first a senior from Texas, and then a bonded senior pair from Missouri. Frosty, Chip, and Baxter were wonderfully gentle and affectionate little boys who loved to cuddle. Chip could even do tricks! What fun we had! And all was well. But then it wasn’t.

Our vet noticed that Frosty’s eye pressures were somewhat high, and we saw an ophthalmologist. Frosty was diagnosed with glaucoma. For about a year, we were able to control his pressures with drops several times a day. But the time came when the pressure in one eye was no longer controllable, and Frosty was in continual pain. His eye was removed. A year later, his other eye had to be removed. Frosty was now completely blind.

How The Blind Dog Alliance Saves Blind Dogs and Spreads Awareness

Each year, in the United States alone, hundreds of thousands of dogs are euthanized in shelters, many of whom never even had a chance at adoption. In order to make room for dogs who are deemed more easily adoptable, animal shelters will often immediately put down any stray or surrendered dogs with health issues or disabilities.

And while more and more rescue groups specialized in saving these “unadoptable” dogs are popping up across the U.S. and Canada, there’s one special group of volunteers and foster families that are focused solely on pulling blind or visually impaired dogs from high-kill shelters.

Miranda Lambert Brings Christmas Cheer to 13 Pet Shelters This Holiday Season

Miranda Lambert, a.k.a. animal lover extraordinaire, is using her powers for good.  If you know of Lambert, you know she is has a special place in her heart for all animals and advocates for those furry friends who can’t speak for themselves.  Even going so far as to create her own MuttNation Foundation, an organization that promotes the adoption of shelter pets, advances spay & neuter, and educates the public about the benefits of these actions.

So that’s why her most recent action makes perfect sense.

International Blind Dog Day

International Blind Dog Day, observed on August 23, is a day meant to appreciate blind dogs. 

Blind dogs are just like any other group of animals or humans with a disability. They’re generally healthy and can function as optimally as regular dogs, except that they could use some guidance and probably expert handling to train them to be able to function despite having no vision. There are several factors affecting and determining blindness in dogs, and these range from disease to old age. Most commonly, dogs go blind from medical conditions such as cataracts, glaucoma, progressive retinal atrophy, and suddenly acquired retinal degeneration (SARDS).

The history of dogs dates back tens of thousands of years when their primary purpose was to assist humans in hunting.  Over the years, dogs have evolved from hunters to pets, companions, assistants to law enforcement and the military personnel, et cetera.  The earliest accepted remains believed to belong to dogs were discovered in Germany and were proved not to be those of a wolf.  They dated back 14,000 years and were found buried with two humans, male and female and their cause of death was said to be what is known as ‘canine distemper.

Shelter of the Year Award (2016)

Board Members Cherie McCarron, President (right), Tara Shepherd, Treasurer (left), and Sheila Van Tine, Member at Large and one of the original founders of BDRA (center), are proud and honored to accept the Shelter of the Year Award for BDRA at the Show Dogs of the Year Awards during a ceremony in New York City on February 11th. Thank you to all of our volunteers and friends! We could not do what we do without all of you! A huge thank you as well to Dogster Magazine, Dogs in Review, Purina ProPlan, and Trupanion for this wonderful honor.

9 Awesome Rescue Groups That Specialize in Saving Special Needs Dogs

Blind Dog Rescue Alliance 

Since its inception in 2009, the Blind Dog Rescue Alliance has adopted out over 400 visually impaired dogs! Comprised only of volunteers, the rescue is spread out through the United States and Canada. Their goal is to rescue as many blind dogs as possible, assist blind dog guardians, and educate the public about what wonderful family members these sightless canines can be.

Can Dogs Tell If Another Dog Is Blind?

When an Akita named Kiaya got glaucoma and started losing her vision, her dog brother, Cass, immediately noticed.

"I don't know how [Cass] knew, but I would see him consistently staying on her blind side," Jessica VanHusen, Kiaya and Cass's owner, told The Dodo. "He would brush up against her going up the stairs, and he would position himself and sit on her blind side in the back yard. I don't know how it happened - it was definitely not something I facilitated."