News Treehugger Voices Rescued Blind and Deaf Puppies Are Incredibly Joyful Breeder had threatened to feed them to coyotes. 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 Updated April 9, 2021 02:57PM 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 Trudy is fearless when she runs. Fred Strobel Photography News Environment Business & Policy Science Animals Home & Design Current Events Treehugger Voices News Archive As I write this, it sounds like there are hyenas battling it out in my basement. Yelps and screams and torturous cries are storming up the stairs along with a few barks and high-pitched squeals. It’s just another day in fostering some rambunctious blind and deaf puppies who happen to play very, very loudly. Trudy and Zane are 9-week-old Australian shepherd mixes, maybe Aussiedoodles. They were dropped off at a rural shelter somewhere in Illinois by a breeder. When the beleaguered shelter worker asked what would happen to the puppies if she couldn’t take them, the breeder told her the coyotes can always use a meal. She couldn't believe it. The shelter, of course, took them. And Speak! St. Louis, the rescue I volunteer with, of course, stepped up. And somehow the puppies ended up here in Atlanta, playing "WWF Smackdown" in my basement. Trudy and Zane are double merles like the Treehugger puppies. Merle is a swirly pattern in a dog’s coat that is very lovely and highly prized by breeders and people who want a pretty dog. When two dogs with the merle gene are bred together, there’s a 25% chance that their puppies will be blind, deaf, or both. Sometimes this happens by accident, but it seems that it happens too often on purpose. In any case, there sure are plenty of puppies that end up needing homes. At least those are the ones that rescue groups hear about. Others just quietly disappear. I’m pretty sure that Zane and Trudy weren’t handled much by their owner when they got here. They were awfully squirmy and bitey and didn’t want to be held or touched. They wouldn’t eat unless they were touching each other. So I’ve been working on it. Hold one for a few seconds and put them down before they fidget. Pet them all over a little at a time. Feed them just a little farther apart at each meal. In just a couple of weeks, they’ve learned that people are pretty cool. Navigating the World Zane in a quiet moment. Fred Strobel Photography I’ve fostered a blind puppy, several deaf puppies, and two blind and deaf puppies including the famous Whibble Magoo, who is now competing in agility contests and is smarter than most people I know. It’s just amazing to watch how they navigate the world. They quickly map out their area, learning where the walls, bushes, and furniture are. Sure, they bounce off a few things at first but puppy heads are pretty hard. They do a little bit of a cartoon-like head shake where the world, no doubt, spins a little bit inside their heads. Then they jump up and go back to exploring and running and being happy. And, boy, are they happy. People often say they feel sorry when they see blind or deaf puppies. They talk about how awful it must be for them. But this is the only life they know and they are so joyful! When they go outside, they bounce in the grass like it is the best, most wonderful place in the world. When they play with a toy, it’s the coolest toy ever. When they find my dog, their tails wag so hard because they are ecstatic to be around him. And when they find a person, they are elated because people are amazing, fun, and they give snuggles and treats. They’ve come a long way from being just a step away from coyote dinner. Now they’ve learned to sit with two taps on their bottom and they are learning “down” is a tap on the front foot. They are getting ready to look for their forever homes where their new people will appreciate that they aren’t just deaf and blind puppies. Instead, they are brilliant, silly, playful, gorgeous puppies with wonderful loving, sweet personalities. They just happen to play and live with the volume turned up loud.