Here is a heartwarming success story about some Australian shepherd/Border Collie mix pups that were around eleven weeks old when they were surrendered at a rural shelter in Southern Indiana. All three had been born with the genetic condition known as "Double Merle". This condition is sometimes referred to loosely as "Lethal White" because the dog will often be almost solid white. A dog having two copies of the Merle genes, will often present with some degree of sight impairment or blindness and/or deafness.
Because of the seriousness of these genetic conditions Double Merle offspring need to be spay/neutered as soon as they are old enough. Their lives will be different than the average pet and normally they need a safe, indoor, stable environment. Given the proper surroundings these dogs can live long, happy lives.
The previous owner of these particular puppies sadly had no qualms with euthanasia. However, the word got out and the shelter was contacted, the dogs were sent to a vet, and a transport was scheduled which gave the pups a reprieve of a few days. The dogs were tested for parvo-virus which thankfully turned up negative on all three of them.
Immediately after the dogs were transported a foster home was found for the female puppy, which was only blind in one eye.
The remaining two brothers were living at a local rescue that checked their physical conditions more thoroughly. Miraculously the pup believed to be completely blind actually seemed to recognize movements and shadows. In fact he often guided his sibling brother that had sight in one eye.
In this case the system worked. The news was put out and quickly "went viral" as word spread rapidly with around the internet. There was a heartwarming outpouring of support for these puppies. Thanks to people that care, these puppies got another chance and hopefully will live long and bring their new owners untold joy.
Thankfully there are some rescues that handle special needs animals including blind and/or deaf dogs. Sometimes experience is the best teacher when dealing with special needs cases like these. Some extra expense could be incurred down the road with special needs animals. However, the joy they bring is priceless!
Update: some new information was received recently, late October 2010, and the female pup evidently is really doing well and her new foster parents in Indiana are crazy about her! The two male pups also were being fostered, soon to be transported to a rescue in New York that cares for special need pups and that will take them in and give them the therapy, training and, no doubt, tender loving care they need. (Mary Ann, thanks for keeping us posted!)
Update2: from Mary Ann: the 2 precious special needs boys just hopped a plane to a Long Island NY (Margaret @ White Angels Hope) rescue and eventually a foster home in NJ. I saw the picture of them in the plane, so cute! First class transport, first class success story. Thanks Mary Ann and Diane!
Update3: as you can clearly see the pups are growing! They are healthy and happy and are being trained and readied for their forever home.