Some people with disability view their condition as a stumbling block to achieving their dreams and helping others but one golden retriever shows this is not always the case.
The dog named Smiley was born without eyes but this did not prevent him from working as a St. John's Ambulance service dog. Smiley works as a therapy dog helping brighten the days of nursing home residents and patients in Stouffville, Canada.
The dog had a rough start though. Its owner, Joanne George, said that she rescued the dog from a puppy mill when it was only about 1 or 2 years old. George recalled that Smiley was very scared. It also had behavioral problems because of its disability but she still brought the dog home.
"He was extremely destructive and had zero housetraining. He was nervous and had many anxieties about coming into a home. He cowered at the sound of another dog eating - the scars on his face and ears told me the stories of what it was like living with so many dogs in such deplorable conditions," George wrote.
Smiley quickly bonded with George's other pet dog Tyler, a deaf Great Dane. The happy go lucky nature of Tyler apparently influenced Smiley to also become one.
"Tyler was so bouncy and crazy and happy go lucky and [Smiley] turned into the same dog," George said. "He came out from underneath the tables where he was always hiding."
George said that she realized that Smiley would be a perfect therapy dog after seeing him interact with the crowd. She then started to bring Smiley to schools and hospitals to visit those who need some cheering up.
Although Smiley did not know any commands when he was adopted, he learned from Tyler. He also eventually learned his skills and became a certified St. John Ambulance Therapy Dog.
George also realized how Smiley could make people happy. She related of a nursing home resident named Teddy that staff members tell they had never seen smile before. Once Smiley came up to him, the staff was amazed when Teddy smiled.
Smiley has been with George for 10 years and George said that she has already learned a lot about caring for blind dogs because of Smiley. She also said that despite Smiley's disability, the dog is able to get around on his own without much difficulty.