From NY Post: If you’re a dog lover with access to Instagram (so, everybody), we’re willing to bet that your feed plays host to at least one of the apparently infinite canine personalities in the social media community.
Dogs that wear raincoats, dogs doing aerobics, dogs trained to go down water slides — it can often seem that we’ve seen everything. A refreshing furry face in the world of animal Instagrammers, though, is a pup that doesn’t see at all.
His name is Smiley (@smileytheblindtherapydog), and he’s a 15-year-old, popcorn-loving, undersized golden retriever with a preference for new soft toys (previously used toys need not apply). Smiley was rescued from an animal hoarder 13 years ago by his now-owner Joanne George. At that time, George was working as a vet tech near Toronto. She was sent with several of her colleagues to (hopefully) save the golden retrievers needing the most veterinary care, a group that would have been euthanized otherwise. George, now 44, remembers her friends insisting that she was the only one who could take the dog who they only referred to then as “the blind one.”
“Nobody at this puppy mill had time to coddle this dog because there were a hundred other dogs,” George told The Post. “He was left on his own, which was to his advantage. He had confidence in being a normal dog.”
Today, Smiley has more reasons to be confident: 128K Instagram followers and a thriving community of people in the Toronto area who depend on him as a therapy dog.
The inspiration for his therapy work was the regular conversations George would have with people while walking Smiley around the Toronto suburb where she lives with her family. She recalls one woman who “really made it sound like Smiley practically saved her life” after an earlier meeting, during which she’d been “going through something really horrible.”
“There was something very, very magical about him,” George said. “I knew that very early, and I knew he could do a lot of good.”
Smiley’s Instagram feed chronicles his adventures visiting nursing homes, classrooms, libraries, and more. A book featuring photos and stories of these visits (titled “Smiley: A Journey of Love”) will also be available this April.
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