News Treehugger Voices Mostly Blind and Deaf Dogs Meet for a Puppy Party Former foster puppies wrestle, leap, romp, and occasionally rest. By Mary Jo DiLonardo Mary Jo DiLonardo LinkedIn Twitter Senior Writer University of Cincinnati Mary Jo DiLonardo has worked in print, online, and broadcast journalism for 25 years and covers nature, health, science, and animals. Learn about our editorial process Published October 26, 2021 10:00AM EDT Fact checked by Haley Mast Fact checked by Haley Mast LinkedIn Harvard University Extension School Haley Mast is a freelance writer, fact-checker, and small organic farmer in the Columbia River Gorge. She enjoys gardening, reporting on environmental topics, and spending her time outside snowboarding or foraging. Topics of expertise and interest include agriculture, conservation, ecology, and climate science. Learn about our fact checking process Share Twitter Pinterest Email Falkor, Asher, Trixie, and Louie play at the reunion. Fred Strobel News Environment Business & Policy Science Animals Home & Design Current Events Treehugger Voices News Archive It was fun watching them come up the driveway. One by one, former foster puppies strained at the leash or pranced in anticipation as they sniffed all the dog smells and sensed something big was happening. There was a lot of barking, but many of the dogs didn’t hear because they are deaf. And a few didn’t see because they are blind. But all knew this was going to be exciting. It was a party in metro Atlanta for dogs who had been adopted in the South from Speak! St. Louis, a rescue that specializes in blind and deaf dogs. Almost all the canine guests were my former foster puppies. Two are blind and deaf, one is blind, and six are deaf. The rest were all rescued from mostly harrowing situations. And now they all have amazing lives. Bernard shows off his speed. Fred Strobel As each pup headed to the party, some raced in, immediately playing and leaping and dashing to find a friend. Some were a little more hesitant, as they tentatively checked out the new dogs and people before starting to play. Some were long-time friends already. The sibling Treehugger polar bear puppies, who were adopted in January, get together regularly for playdates. Asher (formerly Kuruk), Bernard, and Attie were wrestling and leaping and showing off their athletic skills. Tiny puppy Missy checks out the agility equipment. Fred Strobel They were among the biggest of the bunch. The teeniest were the most recent additions: Missy and Lucky. These 10-pound puppies held their own as the big dogs decided they’d be fun to chase or even roll on the ground. Sometimes they ran to their moms, but most often they raced around, showing off their speed. When these two siblings were reunited, their glee was joyful. Almost all the dogs are double merle Australian shepherd mixes. Merle is the pretty, colorful swirly pattern that can be found in a dog’s coat. When two dogs with a merle gene are bred together, the resulting puppies have a one in four chance of being predominantly white and blind, deaf, or both. Some disreputable breeders will keep breeding these dogs and then drop off the unwanted puppies at a shelter or a vet’s office to be euthanized. Fortunately, Speak has saved so many of them. A Blind Dog, Then a Deaf Dog Galen and Asher leap and play. Fred Strobel Galen was always in the middle of the party. He played with every dog, greeted every person, and let me hug all over him. Galen is sweet, gorgeous, friendly, and blind. Galen was my first foster puppy for Speak. I was so worried when he would bounce into walls or trees, but he quickly learned to create a mental map of the house and yard. Galen’s mom and dad, Courtney and Forrest Przybysz, said they were scrolling through Petfinder looking for a puppy when they came across his photos and were hooked. “His cuteness originally captured our attention but after learning he was blind our hearts knew he was the missing piece of our family. After an evening of researching double merle pups and an evening of crawling on the floor to see what furniture he would bump into we were sure we could handle the challenge,” Courtney says. “After meeting Galen, we learned he would be no challenge at all. His blindness was actually his super power.” After a year of watching Galen grow into an amazing adult dog, they wanted to get him a brother. That’s when they found Louie, another Speak dog available for adoption. “He was similar in age to Galen and was deaf so we felt he would be the perfect match! Galen is Louie’s ears and Louie is Galen’s eyes. And they both are our hearts,” Courtney says. “We wouldn’t change a thing about choosing to adopt a double merle dog. They truly have the purest souls and the best super powers!” A Cocker and a Doodle Blind and deaf Millie meets Attie, who is deaf. Fred Strobel At the party, Trixie, a deaf mini Australian shepherd, made sure everyone was having fun and was an equal opportunity player. She raced with the big dogs, sat sweetly with the calmer dogs, and jostled with the puppies. And when some of the dogs didn’t quite remember me (I’m looking at you, Frankie!), Trixie raced over to soothe my feelings. The two deaf and blind dogs were amazing. Sweet Millie the cocker spaniel mix and Truvy the Aussiedoodle were in the fray, testing the agility equipment, happily meeting all the new dogs and people, and patiently posing for photos. There was a smaller play area where dogs like cute Falkor and Truvy could take short breaks when the frenetic activity in the big ring became a little overwhelming. Theo with the icy blue eyes and sweetest disposition was a little tentative when he first arrived. He happily greeted people but was a little unsure of all the dogs. Within minutes, he was running and playing and in the middle of the fun. Theo and Stanley take a break. Fred Strobel And we joked that scruffy Stanley was the black sheep of the party. A border collie or terrier mix, Stanley was the only black dog in the bunch. As a puppy, he was found under a house with so much hair loss, his tail and paws looked like they belonged to a possum. Now, Stanley is beautiful and happy and has two little boys and a great family. A Very Good (Tiring) Day Floofy Frankie taking a break. Fred Strobel At the end of the afternoon, the adopters left with tired dogs, soon sending photos of their pets asleep in the car on the way home. Trixie’s mom, my friend Amanda Quintana, summed up the perfect day: “I really thought that it was a magical experience because these dogs don’t get to be around other dogs that are like them very much,” she said. “They are all happy disposition dogs to begin with and together it just felt like a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.” You can follow Mary Jo and her foster puppy adventures on Instagram @brodiebestboy. View Article Sources "What is a Double Merle?" Double Merles.