Keller is a 1 year old double recessive Blue Merle Aussie. He was rescued at 10 months of age from a back-yard breeder, along with his brother, Willowby, and a young 8 week old pup, Sam, from a second litter. All three dogs were deaf, and Sam and Keller were also blind. That’s right! Keller is both deaf AND blind.
When Keller was brought to ASRM, he had been housed in an outdoor pen with approximately 8 other dogs, including Will and Sam. The dogs were kept outdoors 24/7, with a large trough for a feeder and a kiddie swimming pool as their source of water. The other dogs beat up Keller, biting him, scratching him, and keeping him away from the food and water. Keller was quite thin when he arrived, as you can imagine. More importantly, Keller had never really had any human contact in his first 10 months of life, and not only did he not know humans, what he did know about them was that they couldn’t be trusted.
Keller arrived at the foster home in Bloomington, IL as a hungry, injured and scared pup. It took his foster family over an hour to coax him out of his crate, and then to coax him out of the corner. He bit and snapped at whatever he sensed in front of him- except, of course, food and water. Keller ate like food was never coming again! Keller was flea-ridden, full of wounds, particularly on his nose, and had no idea how to act like a dog. At first Keller kept away from the foster family and the other dogs. After all, in his world other dogs beat you up and people were not to be trusted. With lots of love and patience from his foster family, Keller slowly began to trust. But he still didn’t know how to act like a dog. He laid across people when he tried to cuddle. He couldn’t figure out where the door was, or what a couch or bed was. He was very, very afraid of his crate and would destroy any crate the foster family tried to put him in. As a last result his foster mom began to allow him to sleep next to her on the floor. Several other dogs also slept in dog beds nearby. This helped Keller learn when to get up and when to go to bed.
After a month or so, Keller began to accept humans. He liked to be loved and pet, he liked to sit in people’s laps (even if he was a little big), and he began obedience training through the Illinois State University’s dog training program. Keller learned how to sit and lay down on touch command. He has learned how to give a high 5, and is starting to learn “roll over”. He can walk with a human now. He knows when to start because the trainers touch him under the chin, and he has learned to trust the leash as a guide. He knows that when the trainer stops it means a step or stairs- and he puts out his paw to find the drop or step up. Keller is learning to get along with humans.
Just 2 weeks ago, Keller had a remarkable break-through. He FINALLY began to play with the other foster dogs in his foster home and with the dogs at the ISU program. He also began to really play with toys, pushing balls with his feet and grabbing chew toys that he can smell. He now exhibits a play bow, and tries to bark and push at other dogs to get them to play. He still isn’t the best at playing with others: Because he can’t see or hear the other dogs, he doesn’t always know when they say yes or no, so sometimes his foster dog brothers and sisters get a little irritated with him. But, Keller is almost a real dog.
Keller is looking for a very, very special forever family. The forever family must be willing to help Keller on his journey to becoming a real dog. The family must understand his limitations, but not let his limitations keep him from learning and doing and playing and going places. The family must be patient as Keller works on his social skills, and be willing to laugh when Keller gets mixed up or acts silly because he doesn’t quite know what to do. Most of all, the family must be willing to love Keller and accept him as a true Aussie- smart, fun, loyal and kind.
Keller is the special semester project for a group of ISU students. They will be posting videos and comments about his progress over the next few weeks, as he waits for his forever family. (The students, of course, would love to have Keller as their forever dog, but recognize that living in student housing is NOT a good place for a special needs Aussie). Follow Keller’s journey as the students help him learn to play and trust and learn new tricks and obedience commands. If you would like to help with Keller’s training costs, donations are appreciated. In fact, donations to ASRM to help offset the training costs for all of our foster dogs are greatly appreciated.
Keller says thanks, by the way. He sends kisses and cuddles to all the ASRM supporters. Keller is one special guy
If you are considering adopting a Double Merle/lethal white Aussie, please check out the links we have provided for you below! They are packed with information on caring for deaf and/or blind dogs.