Carmelo, a blind and deaf cocker spaniel who went up for adoption last week, began settling in with his new family Thursday.
The 8-year-old dog had lived with former owner Marilyn Crisp, even as she became legally blind due to cataracts a few years ago. During the last year and a half, the dog developed cataracts of his own, and an ear infection took away his hearing. He and Crisp were stumbling over one another so often that the 62-year-old woman made the difficult decision to give him up after eight years together.
Melo bounced between foster parents this past month while the team at NorCal Cocker Rescue worked to find him the perfect home. They settled on Nelson Kempsky and Sandy Wellington, a pair of 78-year-old dog lovers who spend their days on a spacious and tranquil Elk Grove ranch.
Kempsky, a retired attorney, and Wellington, a former California Highway Patrol administrator, said their hearts went out to the caramel-colored spaniel when they read about his plight. They didn’t think twice about putting in an application.
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“The idea that he didn’t have somebody – it was so sad,” Kempsky said. “We just felt like (taking him in) was the right thing to do. I said, ‘All right, we’re getting another dog.’”
“It was strangely impulsive for us,” Wellington said. “We’re the kind of people who usually plan things out.”
That’s not to say that the couple weren’t prepared. They’re already the proud owners of two elderly Yorkshire terriers – one of whom is deaf and losing his sight – so their modestly sized home is pooch-proofed and easy to navigate.
On Thursday, Melo took his time exploring the rustic kitchen, cozy living room and office lined with floor-to-ceiling bookshelves, while organ music played lightly in the background. A volunteer from the cocker rescue group brought along the bed Melo has been using at his foster homes and plopped it down in a lounge area already occupied by the Yorkies.
Kempsky and Wellington said they spend most of their time at home, and they walk the dogs several times a day on the three-quarter-mile path they installed in their 2.5-acre backyard.
The property was one of the biggest reasons this couple was chosen over other applicants, said rescue volunteer Joan Christy.
The group also believed Kempsky and Wellington could handle Melo’s upcoming medical expenses. The dog has been to several veterinary appointments in the last week, but all the doctors concluded that it’s too late to save his sight or hearing. He has a growth in his ear and a fractured tooth that eventually will need to be addressed.
Melo’s new parents are prepared to handle those expenses, they said. But for now, they’re just enjoying their new addition.
“He’s just lovely,” Kempsky said. “He’s even better than I expected him to be. He’s curious and energetic and he’s going to be a lot of fun.”