This is true of both dogs and humans: We are dealt cards. Sometimes we get great cards and turn them into a tremendous success, other times we squander our advantage. Sometimes we get terrible cards and aren’t able to turn them into a winning hand, and then there are the times that we take the bad cards and make them winners.
How is this for a bad hand? You are born with microphthalmia, a condition that will lead to blindness, at a puppy mill, where you get no care. Your illness makes it harder for you to keep the other dogs from eating your food and from picking on you.
Then the rescuers arrived to save your pack of golden retrievers living a hellish existence. But then, because of your illness, you find out you could be euthanized.
How do you go from that low point to being a beloved 15-year-old therapy dog with 14,000 Instagram followers? If your name is Smiley, this is how you do it.
First, you charm a vet tech named Joanne George who takes you home with her and gives you a wonderful life.
While some dogs would have been irrevocably damaged by his horrid early years, Smiley used that time to learn to fend for himself and become, despite his blindness, a confident and brave soul.
The vet who Joanne worked for removed Smiley’s eyes and sewed his eyelids shut. But that did not stop Joanne and Smiley from walking every day through their Toronto neighborhood where they were happily greeted by neighbors. Those who interacted with Smiley found inspiration in the dog’s story, and soon they found the strength to overcome their own problems the way Smiley overcame his.
These interactions lead Smiley’s mom to realize that there was something magical about him. She knew he could do a lot of good.
Smiley began visiting nursing homes, schools and libraries and spread his magic to everyone he met. This inspired his bursting Instagram feed and a book “Smiley: A Journey of Love” which will be available this month.
Smiley and his mom teach important lessons to children. Smiley’s mom tells them how this beautiful, confident dog was bullied as a pup. Every child’s heart breaks thinking of poor Smiley being bullied, and they learn never to be a bully to another child. And, as they look at Smiley confidently standing in front of the students, they realize that everyone can rise up from being bullied.
Smiley’s calm demeanor also helps at-risk students near the emotional edge relax and easily become part of their classroom again.
He also goes to the library every week where the children snuggle against him and read to him. They think they are reading to Smiley, but his warm confidence gives them the ability, and the concentration, to read.
And then there are those senior citizens at nursing homes who count on Smiley to live up to his name and pass them so smiles too. Wherever Smiley goes, and whoever he sees, he spreads love and comfort. To so many people there is no better gift than that.
Smiley was dealt as bad a hand as any dog could be dealt and somehow, through his positive attitude and magical being he has turned those bad cards into a better life for everyone he meets.
He is truly one magical dog