Jamie is famous!

Disabled Rescue Pet Continues to Beat the Odds

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Every dog, cat, puppy and kitten that has ever been rescued and eventually adopted from our Port Washington, N.Y. Adoption Center has a unique story to tell. Since opening our doors 74 years ago, we’ve saved the lives of more than 1 million homeless animals, many of whom have inspiring tales of resiliency, courage, and overcoming adversity. But some stories, like that of Jamie, a Cocker Spaniel puppy rescued from a Midwestern commercial breeding facility with multiple disabilities, whose photo on one of our social media platforms placed him in the arms of his perfect human companion, simply stand alone as one of our proudest success stories.

Formerly named Stanley, Jamie was born with the double merle gene – a disorder caused by poor breeding practices often resulting in deafness, blindness, or in some cases, both because of lack of pigmentation. Unfortunately, Jamie was born deaf and blind, deeming him useless to the breeders of the puppy mill at just six months old. Luckily, he was surrendered to North Shore Animal League America’s Rescue Team and transported back to the safety of our no-kill campus aboard one of our Mobile Rescue Units. From that day forward, this handsome creature was afforded with nothing but the best resources our organization has to offer – from high quality veterinary care, to a shelter staff that treated him like a member of their own family – preparing him for the day he would meet the perfect adopter.


“Rescuing dogs and puppies from commercial breeding facilities is one of the most rewarding things we do here. Of course, all the lives we save are meaningful, but so many of these animals endure such pain and suffering that it’s vital we continue to do all we can to save them from euthanasia,” said Joanne Yohannan, Senior Vice President of Operations at Animal League America. “Jamie is just one shining example of an animal we were able to rescue from inhumane conditions, rehabilitate, and adopt into the perfect family.”

Jamie Finds His Perfect Match

Jamie was adopted from North Shore Animal League America by Brenda Maeder on January 9, 2017. After continuously seeing his image on her Facebook feed, the Hyde Park resident decided that if anyone was going to provide this resilient dog with the pampered life he so desperately deserved, it was going to be her. As a longtime rescuer of Spaniels with disabilities and other life-threatening health issues – 28 and counting to be exact – Brenda was confident that she could not only care for the disabled pup, but just as she’s done with her four other current dogs, help him to overcome the odds and thrive as a four-legged member of the family. More than a year and a half later, we are thrilled to report that Jamie is doing just that!

“Jamie, or James as I like to call him from time to time, is your typical young and active dog with a lot of energy. He has no clue that he’s disabled and that’s all I could ever ask for him,” Brenda said. “Adopting a dog with special needs isn’t for everybody – it’s a lot of work and a long and steady process that is always ongoing – but I feel like this is my calling. He’s very trainable, so that helps, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. He’s such a special dog and a cherished part of the family.”

When he’s not cuddled in his mother’s arms or rolling over onto his back asking for belly rubs, Jamie is either noshing on his favorite snacks, which often include watermelon and cucumbers, or playing with one of his many toys. Brenda says one of Jamie’s favorite days of the month is when the BarkBox arrives because he knows he’s in store for a brand new treat.

“It’s so funny to see him patiently sit on the kitchen floor as I open the box. He’s like a little child on Christmas morning waiting to open his presents,” she said with a laugh. “I’m happy to spoil him because he truly is a delight and so deserving. Whatever I can do to show him that he’s loved, I’m going to do it.”

Not only does Brenda do all she can to show Jamie how much he means to her every day, but she decided to share his inspirational story with world in the form of a children’s book. Titled “Jamie’s Journey,” the book tells the story about the resilient Cocker Spaniel’s path to becoming the best possible version of himself through training, love and affection, and of course, help from all of the pals, both human and canine, he’s met along the way.

“Jamie’s Journey” is the story of a disabled pet that still has the right to be loved and live life to his full potential. My hope is that children reading this book, or having the book read to them, will see that Jamie is like everyone else,” Brenda writers in the introduction of the book. “He wants to do what everyone else does, even if it takes him longer, or he does it differently. It is the trying that counts.”

Thanks to the support of our generous donors, Animal League America is able to rescue thousands of homeless, sick, and injured animals each year and provide them with a chance to live healthy, fulfilling lives with families who adore them. If not for that constant support, Jamie’s inspiring story, and so many more like it, would never be possible. Thank you for joining us in being the heroes that these innocent animals need during their darkest days.

Climbing Mountains

We all have our challenges.  To a blind and deaf dog climbing up is the easy part.  Figuring how to get down the hard part.  Jamie being still a pup when I brought him home was very inquisitive.  He would climb up on the sofa or chair and then cry for me to come and take him down.  For Jamie, they were his Mt. Kilimanjaro or Mt. Everest.  Once he conquered getting up and down, they no longer have an interest to him.

Tomorrow, how I taught him to climb down.


Jamie loves playing!

Jamie does not know he is disabled.  He just knows he is a two year old that likes to explore and play.  Jamie especially loves his Bark Box that comes every month.  When I bring in the mail and set it on the counter, Jamie will bark at it until I open it and give him a toy.  He delights in the new toys and often, like children, the old ones are cast aside.  Rarely does he destroy a toy.

This months Bark Box had a stuffed anteater.  Jamie has been playing with it for a couple days when his brother Grady decided he wanted it.  This is what happened.





I will have to say, the anteater did not come out alive!

Sweet Baby Jamie

Going back a bit to his first birthday, I decided to play up that he was named after a Scottish character from the Outlander series, James Alexander Malcolm Mckensie Fraser.    To celebrate turning two, I made Jamie his very own kilt.  As every Scot knows, it is an honor to wear the tartan of your family.  Jamie’s kilt is of his mother’s family, Mckensie.

At the same time, I had Jamie’s DNA tested.  His original paperwork said he was poodle and cocker mix, written at the mill he came from.  I am thinking they did not want to admit that he is a double merle.  Jamie’s DNA sample came back that he is 100% American Cocker Spaniel.  It is my understanding that the first American cocker spaniels came over on the Mayflower and are all related.

As they would say on the Johnny Carson show………………………..”here’s” JAMIE!!!

Lovin’ the moon!

By summer 2017, all of Jamie’s issues were winding down.  The daily “poop fest” was a rarity, his barking was close to average for any dog, the circles had disappeared!!!!  Yeah!!!!  Some nights he was sleeping all night, ………………Mama got zzzzzzz!  Then something new happened.

Jamie, like clockwork, would wake at 2 am and cry to go out.  I would get up and take him out, only for him to walk to the farthest part of the yard and sit down.  His nose would reach up to the sky and he would just sit and smell the crisp air.  He actually was beautiful and he so very much enjoyed it.  Only problem was, it was 2 am and I needed to sleep.  It was a simple pleasure for him.  I let it go on for awhile, but realized it needed to stop, I needed sleep to get through my day.  So, every night when he did this, I would march across the yard and bring him in not letting him stay even one minute.

I am now “allowed” to sleep 7 hours.  James, aka:  Jamie, wakes up after 7 hours.  If I go to bed at 11 pm, he wakes me at 6 am.  If I go to bed at 11:30 pm, he wakes me at 6:30 am.  I really have no clue how he knows………….

More about the precious lad next time.0402171639a_HDR


April 21, 2017 was Jamie’s first birthday.  He had been with me 3.5 months and SOME things were coming together.  He was doing fewer circles and barking was down by more than a half.  He was still waking me at night to go potty, but even that was down to once a night.

Then he started waking me many times a night again.  When it hit 7 times in one night, and I was a walking zombie, I took him to the vet again.  Another urine sample and culture, but no UTI this time.  I could not live like this and obviously something was wrong with James.  I asked for a blood test to be done.  The next day we had it, Jamie had an infection.  We started on a 3 week course of antibiotics.  Finally, we got to the root of the problem.  Sleep, heavenly, sleep!!!!!1015171547_HDR-1-1

Tomorrow……………….the moon and stars.

No Aces in this hand…..

If life were a card game, you might say Jamie was dealt a bad hand.  There are some positive things here because many dogs like Jamie are destroyed before they are weaned.  Jamie is a handsome guy and because of that, he was destined to be a stud.  Fortunately for Jamie, he got sick so was given up for rescue which allowed him to be treated for his illness and adopted.

Jamie is a double merle (MM), also called homozygous double merle, meaning both his parents possessed the merle gene.  Twenty five percent or one in four dogs born of double merle parents will have hearing and or eye issues.  They range from, slight to totally deaf and blind.

Jamie has microphthalmia or small eye.  You can see one of his eyes, it is about the size of the tip of a ball point pen.  He moves it about, often appearing that he is following me.  The other eye just appears to be tissue.  I think Jamie may see some light and darkness, but I can not be sure.  He has congenital hearing loss.  He can hear a few sounds.  I have four other dogs, he can hear one bark.  Jamie can hear a train whistle, he cocks his head when it blows.

Until tomorrow…….from his book, Jamie’s Journey, on Amazon.IMG_0266

One more habit to break.

The last thing that Jamie did in the beginning, and will do it when super excited, is nip at your legs.  When I would come home after being out, Jamie would be so excited he would be jumping all over the place and try to pull at my clothes.  Instead, it was a little nip.  Not break the skin nip, but pinch nip so my upper legs were black and blue.  He would get you on your inner leg and we all know how that hurts.  Remember, he for all practical purposes, was a puppy and puppies tend to be mouthy.  Of course, the only senses he can use are feel and smell.

How did I break that?  Every time he did it, I would stop and gently hold his mouth closed and push him away.  Gradually he figured it out.  First, he would try to move his mouth away from my hand, then I knew he understood.  It did not take long and for the most part he has stopped.  During times of super excitement he will do it, and I remind him.  Other than the above, Jamie is the most gentle guy.  His kisses are so soft and he barely touches you when taking food out of your hand.

Tomorrow, the hand life dealt him.0126171417a

The trifecta!!!!

The third Jamie issue, that led to him being returned from his first adopter, was his incessant barking.  Morning, noon and all night, Jamie barked.  He barked for days on end.  He barked so much he gave himself laryngitis.  He would open his mouth and NOTHING came out!!!!  I felt guilty because I was in heaven, peace, heavenly, peace!

I was not sure which was worse, the poop, the circles or the barking.  A perfect trifecta!!!! Like giving birth, I can’t remember how long it took for all three of them to go away, but they did.

Jamie has such a sweet personality.  He is very loving.  There was one more issue to work on.  Until tomorrow, Jamie fans.