ASPCA Happy Tails: Crimson’s Story
Suehaley M. is no stranger to animals that have been abused and neglected.
The Animal Care Technician works at the ASPCA’s Animal Recovery Center (ARC) in Manhattan, caring for dogs and cats rescued by the NYPD. She nurtured one special dog, a seven-year-old, blind Shepherd mix named Crimson, for nine months. Then she adopted him.
“I fell in love,” Suehaley explains. “He was ‘my’ dog, and having cared for him for so long, I knew I’d be able to continue to do it.”
Crimson was part of a group of five dogs discovered in a Queens, New York, yard without food, water or shelter in harsh winter weather. He and his four yard-mates were seized by the NYPD in February 2015 and taken to the ASPCA.
Aside from an embedded collar in his neck and ears shredded by fly bites, the emaciated Crimson also suffered from heartworm disease, thyroid issues and blindness presumably caused by damage to his optic nerve.
“When he first came to us, it was hard to get him to walk,” Suehaley remembers. “From his kennel to the outside terrace would take 20 minutes.” So ARC staff tapped a walking stick on the floor, and he followed the sound. They also used a remote control car with baby food on it to lure him outside. Eventually he learned to follow their footsteps and walk on a leash. And despite all his suffering, Crimson was so good with other dogs that he was often co-housed to socialize puppies and help other dogs come out of their shells.
Once in his new home, Crimson took a while to get used to his new surroundings. “He kept bumping into things,” says Suehaley, who shares a three-bedroom apartment with her daughter, mother, two siblings, a niece and a six-year-old cat named Kitty, a former stray. “The nice thing is he’s hardly ever alone, and the living room is his room, so he has his own space.”
The family lives on the first floor of their building, so it’s also easy to get Crimson in and out for walks, which he prefers at night, when the neighborhood is quiet. Suehaley’s two-year-old daughter, Amia, “absolutely loves Crimson,” she says, and the feeling is mutual. “He’ll lie on the floor, and she’ll lie next to him. He follows her around; he loves the sound of her voice.” Her niece, Aimee, is also a big fan.
Kris L., Technical Operations Manager for the ARC team, remembers how trusting, calm and gentle Crimson is. “He came from a horrific, long term neglect case and yet remained sweet and loving,” she says. “He welcomed affection from anyone at any time, and you knew he was happy when he leaned into you as you petted him.” Crimson still welcomes petting, and routinely seeks out affection from his new family.
For anyone interested in adopting a blind animal, Suehaley advises: “It definitely takes a lot of patience. And you’ve got to be consistent, understanding and caring.” Still, she wouldn’t have it any other way. “Crimson is a great dog, he’s like a giant baby,” she says.
Crimson still reacts to loud noises and bears the scars of his former life—the embedded collar, fly-bitten ears and blindness—and has been treated for heartworm and remains on thyroid and liver medication.
People sometimes ask Suehaley why she adopted a blind, elderly dog with health problems instead of a puppy, and her response is always the same: “Puppies don’t need me like Crimson does.”