LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — Blind and deaf therapy dog teaches to see with the heart
At 11 years old, Australian shepherd Willow is a loyal companion to Elizabeth Slone and a dutiful therapy dog. He is also blind and mostly deaf.
"He can go in the backyard and he knows his surroundings, of course, don't change anything around the house," Elizabeth Slone chuckled. "He's been the easiest dog I've ever had."
Slone rescued Willow alongside his sister Ella from a puppy mill in Falmouth. Each of the dogs was born with a condition leaving them with limited sight, Willow getting the worst of it. Over the years though, Slone came to realize Willow had a gift.
"He was seeing the world with his heart. I was like he's really got something to give here," Slone said.
As a puppy, Willow was very nearly put down, and Slone believes he is here for a reason. When she came upon the idea of pet therapy, she knew that was his purpose.
Whether he is visiting children at a school or veterans at a retirement home, Willow's gentle spirit and ability to connect with others leaves behind an impactful legacy.
"Unconditional love, being non-judgmental, looking with our heart rather than our eyes and seeing that person for who they really are," Slone said of the lessons Willow teaches.
A dog proving an individual is so much more than the limitations of their physical body but also the contents of their spirit.
"I just think that we should see the capability and the possibility rather than the disability," Slone said. "You know, it's not about being able to herd sheep or agility or look at all of these awards my dog won. You know, winning your heart is more important."
You can follow Willow on his adventures on Facebook and Instagram by searching Willow The Pet Therapy Dog. Slone is working on writing his story to share with the world.