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Blind dog has own guide dog
7/6/01

Van Nuys, California - In a remarkable tale of friendship among animals, a blind lap dog in southern California has its own guide dog - a German shepherd which refuses to leave his disabled pal's side, according to a report on Saturday.

Foot-sore, their fur matted, the two strays wandered into a suburban Los Angeles neighbourhood last week, with the larger dog carefully nudging the smaller one to prevent her from blundering into traffic, said the report in the Van Nuys Daily News.

"It's the most amazing thing you've ever seen," said Van Nuys resident Barbara Fiero, who took the dogs in and named them Samson and Delilah. "The big one wasn't going to let the little one get hurt."

Fiero's neighbour June Malecek, who lives across the street, first spotted the two dogs last Sunday.

"You could tell they had been walking for a while," Malecek said. "Their tongues were hanging out and the big one, he seemed really weary."

Malecek set out a bowl of ice water for the dogs, but Samson would not go near it until Malecek backed away. Then he used his snout to guide Delilah to the bowl and let her drink first.

As the dogs slurped away, Malecek managed to get the attention of Fiero, an unabashed animal lover who already owns a dog, five cats and 13 birds, plus a tank full of fish.

Talking in a low, soothing voice, and being careful to keep a safe distance, Fiero eventually coaxed the dogs into her fenced-in back yard.

Avoiding canine confrontations

There they took up residence in the plastic igloo doghouse that belongs to Sparky, Fiero's Lhaso Apso, who now lives inside the house to avoid any canine confrontations.

When Delilah snoozes inside the doghouse, Samson lounges outside the entrance, keeping guard.

Fiero and Malecek can only guess at whether the dogs have always lived together, or struck up a friendship as they wandered the streets of Los Angeles.

A veterinarian subsequently said Delilah's eyes are clouded black by cataracts and ringed by dark layers of rheum, and she suffers from ear mites. The time on the road dirtied her white fur, and Samson's black-and-beige coat grew unkempt.

Fiero, 58, who works at the Los Angeles Pet Memorial Park, admitted that she "sort of" hopes both mutts are homeless so she can keep them.

"Working at a pet cemetery, you always see animals when they've died," she told the paper. "It's nice to see a couple of dogs up and around."

Fiero has gained Samson's trust to the point where he now allows her to pick up and carry Delilah around the back yard. But the big dog never goes far away, prancing at Fiero's heels as she holds Delilah, and sometimes rising up on his hind legs to get a better view of his pal.

He also remains wary of strangers, watching them closely and letting out a few deep barks if anyone other than Fiero or Malecek. - Sapa-DPA

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