Like great musicians before him — Beethoven, Ray Charles, Stevie Wonder — Braille the dog doesn’t let his disabilities keep him from his passions.
The two-year-old Australian Shepherd was born blind and deaf due to irresponsible breeding, reports the Detroit Free Press, but can perform all the tricks a sighted, hearing dog can do, and then some.
Along with learning basic commands through tactile cues, Braille has also learned how to play the piano.
This dedication to trying new things has earned Braille a Novice Trick Dog title from the American Kennel Club. Never one to quit, Braille is already working on his Intermediate title.
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Braille, who is a double merle dog, was born blind and deaf because he is the result of merle-to-merle breeding. A merle Australian Shepherd is born with a lighter coat. Breeding one merle dog with another, a double merle, results in a canine with an almost pure white coat. Puppies born with two copies of the merle gene also have a higher chance of being born blind, deaf, both blind and deaf or being born with no eyes at all. Because of these risks, it is considered irresponsible to breed two merle dogs.
Often double merle dogs born with disabilities are killed or abandoned by breeders, according to Braille’s owner Rose Adler of Ypsilanti, Michigan. Thankfully, Braille was spotted on Craigslist, where he was listed for free by a breeder, by a rescue group which flew him from Texas to Ohio to be fostered by Speak for the Unspoken, a rescue that specializes in special needs animals.
Adler found Braille there and knew she needed to bring him home to join her two cats and three dogs. With Adler, Braille has been given the room to grow, learn and thrive, a surprise to many.
“I meet a lot of people who are like, ‘Why don’t you euthanize that dog?’ Or they say, ‘Aww, he’s blind. Look at him’,” Adler told the Detroit Free Press. “He doesn’t know he’s blind. He’s happy. He’s worried about what he’s going to have for dinner.”
Between his personal piano recitals, Braille loves playing with his fur siblings and traveling with Adler’s nonprofit, Keller’s Cause, to events to help show others that it is possible to enjoy life to the fullest no matter what hardships you have been dealt.
“This dog was born with the short stick in life, but he’s happy, and he’s happy with what he has and what he can do. He doesn’t worry about what he can’t do,” Adler said.