The phrase “love is blind” can’t be truer for anyone else than Smiley the dog.
The twelve year old Golden Retriever was born with a condition similar to dwarfism. Not only did the ailment leave him eyeless, but also with oversized teeth. His eye sockets (which were sewn shut to prevent infection) and his large jaw give the impression that Smiley is constantly smiling, hence his name.
However, Smiley’s days weren’t always filled with warmth and happiness. Born in a puppy mill, along with over a hundred other dogs, Smiley had struggled to survive due to his disabilities. When Joanne George, Smiley’s current owner, first found Smiley, he had wounds all over his face and ears. Along with ten other puppies, Smiley was taken by George to be placed with other families in Canada. While the other dogs were sold to other families, George decided to raise Smiley herself.
Initially extremely shy and fidgety, Smiley was able to come out of his shell with George’s care and her boisterous Great Dane. Now, Smiley works at the St. Johns Ambulance, a first aid training organization, where he had been trained to become a therapy dog. Most of Smiley’s work consists of supporting children and the disabled. George takes Smiley to accompany children to funerals and visitations, claiming that “the presence of a dog helps relieve the sadness surrounding them in these moments” (The Huffington Post). She also takes Smiley to a local library in Stouffville, Canada to spend time with children who have autism or difficulty reading and to classrooms with students with special needs. “These kids who were born with different disabilities are able to see that dogs, too, are born with the same disabilities. It’s important for them to see that Smiley has overcome, and that he’s happy” (Joanne George, The Huffington Post).
One miraculous tale of Smiley’s ever-contagious joy is of his experience with a man named Teddy. Teddy was a man who Smiley frequently visited at the local nursing home. He had no speech and was unable to communicate with others, but that didn’t stop Smiley from trying. “One day, Smiley put his feet up in front of [Teddy] and he started smiling and making noise. All of the nurses rushed into the room and said they’ve never seen the man smile before — never seen any kind of reaction,” said George (The Huffington Post).
Smiley’s understanding and patience for everyone around him is what make him so lovable and special. George hopes that Smiley’s story will not only inspire people to not dwell on their past or disabilities, but also encourage others to adopt dogs despite their disabilities, and give them a chance. Although Smiley is now aging, his love and enthusiasm will never die.
– Seiyeon Park (’17)
Captions: Faith Choi (’16)