Carmelo the cocker spaniel can’t see an inch in front of his nose or hear you call his name, but he’ll happily swipe a treat from your hand and take a nap on your couch.
This quirky caramel-colored pooch, nicknamed Melo, is blind, deaf, and in need of a forever home. He dropped into the canine foster system this week when his owner, Marilyn Crisp, 62 and also blind, came to the hard realization that she could no longer care for the aging pet who has been at her side since he was a puppy.
Crisp and Carmelo spent a happy eight years in Crisp’s Land Park home. When Crisp developed a cataract and lost sight in her left eye a few years ago, she started to rely on her son and fiancé for some of Melo’s care.
I knew he couldn't see or hear, but he didn’t understand why I kept stepping on him. Every time I did it I’d just be in tears. I didn’t want to be stepping on my dog.
Marilyn Crisp, on why she had to part with her beloved dog, Carmelo. She and Carmelo are blind. Carmelo is also deaf.
When her fiancé died and her son moved out, Crisp and Melo got used to living alone. At one of Melo’s regular pampering appointments last year, a groomer noticed something in the dog’s eyes and suggested Crisp take him to the vet.
Melo was developing cataracts in both eyes. The vet quoted Crisp $5,000 to fix it – a price that the widowed retiree said she couldn’t afford. They went home, and Melo’s eyes slowly fogged over.
About a month ago, Melo’s hearing started to slip, Crisp said. The spaniel has had several ear infections over time – common for the floppy-eared breed – and the most recent was especially bad. He didn’t seem to be able to hear anything, but Crisp kept talking to him anyway.
The weeks wore on. Crisp bumped into Melo. Melo bumped into the walls. She’d stumble toward him to pet him and she’d find him quivering in fear, she said.
But there could be someone that comes by and sees him and falls in love with him. He’s no trouble.
Sandy Harmon, Carmelo’s foster mom
“I knew he couldn't see or hear, but he didn’t understand why I kept stepping on him,” she said. “Every time I did it I’d just be in tears. I didn’t want to be stepping on my dog.”
Recently, Crisp developed aches in her back and hips. The pain has been so great that she hasn’t been able to walk, she said.
So last week she made the phone call she’d been putting off, and the Front Street Animal Shelter came to take Melo away.
“I kept him for awhile because I didn’t think anybody would take care of him, not seeing and not hearing,” she said. “I miss him so much. He was my baby and it was so hard to give him up.”
Melo went to the shelter and then home with shelter staff until the NorCal Cocker Rescue took him in. He’s currently being fostered with spaniel lover Sandy Harmon in her Rancho Cordova home.
He bumps into a lot of things but he’s doing well, Harmon said. He eats, he sleeps, and he uses the dog door on his own. He doesn’t play much, but he’ll sit with you all day.
On Sunday, Harmon will bring Melo to the Woofstock dog festival in Rocklin in the hopes of getting him adopted.
“If he was only blind, or only deaf – no problem,” she said. “But with both handicaps, it might be hard. But there could be someone that comes by and sees him and falls in love with him. He’s no trouble.”
Crisp hasn’t visited Melo. Partly because she doesn’t drive, and also because it would hurt to see him and not be able to bring him home, she said.
She is hoping with all of her might that someone will take a liking to Melo and give him what she can’t anymore.
“He needs to be walked, he needs to go outside,” she said. “Just because he can’t see, he’s still a lively, healthy dog.”
For information about Carmelo, call NorCal Cocker Rescue, 916-541-5149.