Bingo didn't hold a grudge. Sure, heavy snow drifts and slush were not a good place for a little blind white ball of fluff, wandering far from home. But this little poodle, whether he was dumped or lost, still loved people. In fact, it was this love for people that led him to find his way through the snow to some children waiting for a school bus. The parents with the children called animal control, who took him to their shelter.
The little blind white poodle had no tags and no microchip, so the shelter could not find his owners. And there was always the chance that his owners had dumped him, thinking that a blind white ball of fur would not be seen in all the snow and would disappear.
A blind poodle with very bad teeth ( whew! that breath!) was not a likely adoption candidate. So the little blind poodle did not have much time left.
Fortunately, the shelter staff were nice people and they saw right away that this little blind white fluffball was sweet and kind. They emailed to every rescue group they could, asking for someone to save him. But no one had foster homes available- there are never enough foster homes- and the answer kept coming back "we are so sorry but we just can't." The staff was preparing themselves for the tough decision to come. Then out of the blue a rescue that specialized in taking in senior dogs emailed- yes, we will take him. A grooming facility had offered to house the poodle until a foster home or an adopter could be found.
Yay! So Young at Heart Pet Rescue (www.yahpetrescue.com) took the little white poodle. The little white poodle went to live at the groomers, but first he was taken to a kindly vet who had offered to help. The vet said that the poodle was truly blind and this kind of blindness could not be fixed, but he seemed to have been blind a long time and was very resourceful. He did have to have most of his teeth taken out.
So now the question- who would adopt an older, blind, almost toothless poodle? The rescue group pondered this while the poodle learned his way around the groomers. Because he was blind, he would walk until he hit a wall, then walk the other way until he hit another wall. And so the groomers named this bouncing white ball of fur Ping Pong.
After some time a lady who had been thinking of fostering contacted the rescue group. I would like to take him! My own poodle just died and I think I can help this one. And I'm not ready to commit to a new dog so fostering might just be the thing for me right now.
And so the poodle Ping Pong went to live with the lady and her two other dogs, who accepted Ping Pong right away. And then the foster mom noticed something- Ping Pong liked people. Liked them a lot. And people liked him. A thought occurred to her. Let's see if Ping Pong would make a good therapy dog. But we can't call him Ping Pong anymore- that is disrespectful. What sounds enough like Ping Pong that he will answer to it, but is something kinder than Ping Pong? Bingo! Like the song- B-I-N-G-O.
So Bingo became a therapy dog. Because he was blind he didn't see if someone was scary looking or hooked up to a lot of tubes or anything else that might scare another dog. He just knew they were people. And did I mention that Bingo liked people? So off he went, visiting hospitals, nursing homes, and rehab facilities. Bingo visited a teenage psychiatric facility where a big, fierce, burly teenage (who was in treatment for aggression), petted Bingo oh-so-softly and whispered to him. Bingo smiled. The burly teenager with anger issues said " you know, this dog has had so much happen to him. He could be really mad but he just chose to be happy". Bingo smiled. Foster mom smiled. The nurses smiled. A lightbulb had gone off in that young man's head.
Bingo had two favorite places to visit- the facilities where seniors who were suffering from some forms of dementia stayed, and another where young people with some autism stayed. At the senior place, people who had not interacted with anyone or seemed to have no understanding of where they were would stroke Bingo's head and smile, some long-ago memory fleeting though their brains. At the childrens' place, one autistic girl who had not interacted or spoken to anyone reached for Bingo and said softly "bingo".
And so the dog that had been dumped to die in a brutal Chicago winter forgot all about that and gave back to people. Like I said at the beginning - Bingo didn't hold a grudge.