Blind golden retriever Smiley helps autistic kids to learn (VIDEO)
Meet Smiley, a blind 12-year-old therapy dog who helps children with special needs and brightens the days of nursing home residents in Stouffville, Ontario, Canada.
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The pooch was born without eyes, and with a condition linked to dwarfism that left him with physical disproportions. His eyes were sewn shut to prevent infection, so the dog looks as though he is always smiling.
After rescuing Smiley from a puppy mill when he was one or two years old, dog trainer Joanne George had difficulties finding a home for the pooch – so she decided to adopt him.
It didn't take George long to realize Smiley would make a perfect therapy dog, thanks to his kind interactions with people.
#ICYMI: Smiley the blind golden retriever brings joy to nursing home patients and residents: http://t.co/hRMb5sbHuhpic.twitter.com/G5Hcv4BgTX
— ABC7 News (@abc7newsBayArea) March 15, 2015
“He’s never been able to see, so he’s had to learn to understand his other amazing senses,” George told The Huffington Post on Thursday. “Smiley just makes people smile.”
Speaking to ABC News, she recounted that “there was this man Teddy, [he had] no speech, no communication at all,” and the staff had “never seen Teddy smile before.” But when Smiley arrived to the nursing home, Teddy “smiled when Smiley got into his vision,” she said.
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At the moment, Smiley works at St. John’s Ambulance, a first-aid training organization in the York region of Ontario.
“@CuteEmergency: Meet Smiley, the blind therapy dog who melts everybody's hearts. pic.twitter.com/B93hrNJ3oM” oh my god. ❤️
— Charl (@idkcharl) March 15, 2015
George said that Smiley visits a local library to spend time with children who have autism and experience difficulty with reading. She also takes the dog to visit children with other special needs.
“These kids who were born with different disabilities are able to see that dogs, too, are born with the same disabilities,” George said. “It’s important for them to see that Smiley has overcome, and that he’s happy.”