Seven month old Winter, a Husky and German Shepherd puppy mix, sat famished, alone and abandoned in the middle of the night tied to a shopping cart. To make her situation more dire, Winter is also completely blind and deaf; therefore entirely unable to gauge her surroundings. She was rescued by Northern California Family Dog Rescue (NCFDR) of San Francisco, who has a reputation of caring for medically challenged, large breed, blind dogs. They found Winter dehydrated, malnourished and suffering from both giardia and a urinary tract infection.

Tragically, while on a walk shortly after her rescue, Winter’s vulva literally fell out from her pelvis onto the sidewalk. Bleeding excessively,  she was rushed immediately to a veterinary-emergency room where an extremely rare and risky surgery was performed. Thankfully, the surgeon who took her case was considered one of the few veterinarians in San Francisco qualified to perform this high risk surgery.

When the Ian Somerhalder Foundation (ISF) heard of Winter’s story, we were happy to provide her a Medical Emergency Grant to help pay for her post-surgery wound care and rehabilitation. NCFDR wrote ISF about Winter, “Despite her large size and blindness, Winter is well behaved, cute, and affectionate. She has made great progress in a foster home with a mom who is very experienced with huskies. She lives with two other adult huskies who have taught her to function nicely in a home and walk on a leash. Her disposition and behavior are considered superb. She has been treated very badly but is responding to kindness and much-needed medical care.”

While Winter recovered in her foster home, NCFDR reviewed numerous applications to adopt Winter. NCFDR screened specific families experienced with the large breed husky nature and willing to undergo training to accommodate Winter's blindness, deafness and medical disabilities. She was adopted by a very loving, extremely husky-experienced family with two white huskies already in their home. Winter’s new pack is comprised of her humans as well as seven year old husky Elly, with whom she likes to puppy-wrestle and eleven year old husky Pika, the mommy of the pack. Winter loves to kiss Pika's chin and mouth. Per the advice of NCFDR trainers, Winter is kept on a lead attached to one of the family’s sighted, hearing huskies and in this way has learned to navigate the world despite her blindness and deafness. She is also being trained in using touch techniques.

NCFDR told ISF, “We are exceptionally grateful to the ISF for choosing to support a disabled puppy who had no other support at the time. The ISF's decision to help Winter was truly part of a life-saving intervention for this blind, deaf, very ill puppy who had been abandoned to die in a parking lot.” They went on to say, “Family Dog Rescue has been affirmed in our mission of never giving up on adoptable dogs. We screen all of our dogs for their adoptability without regard to their past history (abuse, hoarding, fighting) or physical disability (blindness, deafness, physical injury). If we believe the dog is adoptable into a loving family (we screen and attempt to guarantee all of our dogs with young children), we will rehabilitate the dog. ISF's support for this true medical emergency has given our organization affirmation in this mission. Also, our Board has learned about Ian Somerhalder's beautiful, loving commitment to the cause of animal welfare and we have some hard core and newly minted Vampire Diaries fans in our leadership.” ISF wishes Winter a long, happy, fulfilled life with a pack which will love and adore her.


Written by Veronica Hampton

ISF depends on your support to provide programs like our Medical Emergency Care Grant for Animals. Please consider donating today.