This story is part of the Believe in Wonders series, from Wondercide, about rescued animals who have miraculously survived and thrived.
Imagine a cold, dark cemetery in rural Mississippi. How did a blind dog named Milkshake and her sister (blind and deaf) survive until being rescued by an Ohio-based animal rescue agency? Miraculously, they did.
The scared little pups were luckily found and transported to a Columbus area facility run by SPEAK! for the Unspoken, and within weeks, Milkshake was stealing the hearts of everyone around her.
That winning personality earned her a spot on local television during an event that was highlighting the plight of dogs with disabilities. And it was at that event that Cincinnati resident, Bridget first laid eyes on the cute doggie that is classified a double merle basset hound mix.
Love at first sight
Bridget, who works in the pet industry, recalls seeing this “weird-looking-in-the-best-way-ever” puppy in someone’s arms at the event and was struck by her beautiful face and merle coat.
The patchwork of colors that is a familiar hallmark of such dogs is what often get them noticed, but in Milkshake’s case — and that of her sister — both are the result of a merle bred with another merle that frequently leads to dogs being blind, deaf or both.
While the “zombie-like” features that Bridget described might have been off-putting to other potential dog parents, within 30 minutes, she was submitting her adoption papers. Unfortunately, Milkshake’s sister was not at that event and Bridget is not sure who adopted her.
Milkshake’s new beginning
Bridget said that Milkshake was “just amazing from the start,” acclimating to new surroundings and getting to know her three resident cats.
Despite Milkshake’s cheerful disposition, it wasn’t exactly easy at the start, Bridget explained.
“The second day I had her, she had a seizure, and watching that puppy seize broke my heart,” she recalled.
Frequent seizures were a regular part of Milkshake’s early days with Bridget.
But after putting her on a raw diet, along with additional holistic-based nutritional measures, Bridget said that Milkshake turned a corner and has been seizure-free for the past three years.
While Milkshake may be blind, Bridget said you’d never know it. If anything, the energetic Milkshake doesn’t let her impairment get in the way.
Like other blind dogs, she has learned to use her senses and “map” the areas around her, which is why she’s able to run around a park as good as the other dogs. She has also adapted well to the interior of Bridget’ house, with its two sets of winding stairs that she navigates with ease, in addition to the Christmas tree that has never toppled.
Outside, she is eager to run and jump, outpaces other dogs that can see, and is a pro when it comes to basic tricks like roll over and sit.
“She is truly the happiest dog,” said Bridget, who frequently brings her on local hikes.
Milkshake is quite independent, too, often leading the way for S’more, Bridget explained.
“S’more is obsessed with Milkshake, and if he doesn’t see her, he will begin to panic,” she added of Milkshake’s more anxious companion.
About 6 months after Milkshake’s arrival, Bridget adopted another rescue dog that she named S’more, an Australian Shepherd. Milkshake and S’more have become the best of friends.
Milkshake’s special powers
While many dogs can find objects that they hide, such as bones, Milkshake’s ability to remember something she’s done months — even years earlier — is quite something, explained Bridget.
Throughout the pandemic, Bridget and her pets were homebound like everyone else, which is why they didn’t get to visit her friend’s house until after restrictions were lifted.
Unknown to Bridget, Milkshake had buried a bone in her friend’s yard and when they returned 18 months later, she was able to easily retrieve the treat.
“The Beyonce of dogs”
Whatever happened to Milkshake and her sister prior to being found in that Mississippi cemetery more than five years ago, nobody will ever know for sure. But Bridget said that despite the trauma, Milkshake shows no signs of anxiety from the experience and laps up the positive attention that she gets.
Her Instagram feed of over 6,000 followers and growing is evidence of that adulation.
“She’s like the Beyonce of Dogs,” Bridget said. “I’m so blessed and so happy to have her.”
Favorite toys? Anything that she can play tug of war with -- her absolute favorite game.
Favorite tail-wagging moment? A good belly rub! Even when Mom's on regular work-scheduled Zoom calls, "I'm often typing with one hand and petting Milkshake with the other!"
Favorite activity? Playing outside for 30 minutes before bedtime.
Sneaky sneaks? Trying to sneak away a bone treat that is usually kept on a hard-to-reach bookshelf.