Camp Courageous Hosting New "Camper"

posted by WMT News/KCRG-TV9 - 

MONTICELLO, Iowa (KCRG TV9)- At an eastern Iowa camp serving those with special needs, there’s now an animal with special needs as well. It’s a goat named “Dorothy” that was born blind.

Dorothy the dairy goat came to Camp Courageous recently. The goat was born blind and is interacting with campers who have special needs as well.

And Dorothy now has a new home and perhaps a new job at Camp Courageous near Monticello—showing campers how even animals can overcome disabilities.

Campers are quickly learning Dorothy, the three-month-old dairy goat, is different.

Unlike the nearly two dozen other animals campers can pet and help feed, Dorothy can’t see the bag of grain when it’s offered.

So the other campers watch as she listens for the sound they make as they rattle her feed bag and then uses her nose to locate the food she can’t see.

Uriel Moorer, director of the Camp Courageous nature center, says one visually impaired camper who attended last weekend quickly latched on to the goat.

“His reaction was like ‘wow’ and he said to the goat ‘I hear you have a visual impairment just like me.’ And I said yes she does. Maybe you can help her out—you can see a little more than she does. And he says OK,” Moorer said.

Moorer says Dorothy the goat was born blind and a Jones County farmer offered the animal to the camp recently after the goat’s mother died.

Following shots and a period of adjustment, Dorothy will join the rest of the sheep and goats in the nature center barn.

Staffers aren’t exactly sure if Dorothy will become a sort of “therapy pet” for campers. But one counselor, Hunter Freeman, says simply watching her adapt is a lesson many who come to the camp can appreciate.

“Not only do they get to interact with animals they are not used to but an animal that shares a commonality with them I think will be something cool and unique,” Freeman said.

Staffers have discovered the camp’s therapy pet, Diamond the dog, has taken a special liking to the goat with the disability.

And an idea is forming.

Could the camp’s therapy dog be taught to lead Dorothy around on a harness as, yes, a seeing eye dog for the camp goat?

So far Diamond has trouble getting Dorothy to follow the tug on the leash. But it’s a work in progress and they plan to keep working on it.

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