Learning at BCR, a school for the developmentally disabled, on Monday took on a furry form with students learning about determination and compassion from someone who knows the daily challenges that come with disabilities.
Daisy, a greyhound-Dalmatian mix, took center stage during the adult day activity program where students crowded around to shake her paw. The 2-year-old dog was born blind and deaf, leaving her with only the sense of touch and smell for guidance.
“Many of [the students] have animals at home,” said Lonna Grant, executive director of BCR. “But Daisy is a special needs animal. It is very special. We were excited to have them come.”
Studio City residents Bruce Mead and Maryam Faresh adopted Daisy last year after seeing her picture at the C&C Pet Food store in Burbank. She had been given up twice, first by her birth family and then by a foster family.
Blind and deaf, it was difficult to gain her trust, Faresh said.
“She was tough in the beginning,” she said. “She only bonded with [our other dog] Olivia and refused to connect with us and was kind of aggressive. We had to really work with her.”
Training and disciplining Daisy was painstaking work, Mead said.
“She was a kook,” Bruce said. “I baby-proofed everything. I went to the baby store and got the rubber stuff you put on all the corners. She would just crash into everything.”
But the couple stuck with it, working to build a relationship with the dog. With the help of a trainer, they were able to get her behavior under control. They taught her to easily move up and down stairs, which had previously terrified her. They introduced her to swimming and snow.
Their experience with Daisy opened their eyes to the special needs of developmentally disabled adults and children, Faresh said. She wrote and self-published a book titled “What about Daisy?” which tells the story about a dog and her companions trying to find a suitable home.
They now make visits to schools and hospitals, inspiring disabled people with Daisy’s story.
“Daisy brought so much inspiration and strength to us, and still does on a daily basis,” Faresh said. “It is not like you can come home to an average dog and relax. There is always something you need to be doing with Daisy; there is always care involved.”
Caring for a disabled dog is incredibly rewarding, Faresh said.
“You have this daily strength and inspiration and joy she gives off, and we felt we couldn’t keep that to ourselves,” Faresh said. “It is contagious, and we wanted others to feel that from her.”