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Despite being born without eyes, Border Collies Riddle and Yume inspire others — by just being themselves.
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Some dogs go blind because of aging, disease or injury. But two Border Collies who were born in separate litters and without eyes never knew what it was like to see.
“It’s kind of funny because they don’t know any different,” says Sally Hull of Meleb, Manitoba, Canada, the woman who adopted the two dogs. “These guys were born this way.”
Riddle and Yume have empty eye sockets with only some pink flesh within, but you wouldn’t believe it if you watched them move from a distance — they’d look just like regular dogs. It just took a special person to take them in, care for them and see their potential. Riddle and Yume are now inspiring children through a special program.
If Hull — founder and executive director of Hull’s Haven Border Collie Rescue, a foster network serving Border Collies and other dogs in the Winnipeg area — hadn’t taken in Riddle, the puppy would have been killed. A woman contacted Hull’s Haven, pleading for help. The farmer who had Riddle’s litter planned to drown the eyeless, black-and-white puppy, and the woman could only provide a home for a few months.
“I took him home, and he’s been with me ever since,” Hull says. She was nervous when she picked up the pup because she’d never had any experience with a blind dog.
“Here’s this dog in the back of the car, showing teeth, terrified, shaking, growling,” Hull says. “I thought, ‘Oh, my God. What have I gotten myself into?’ I didn’t have a hot clue what I was going to do.”
However, time showed beyond doubt that Riddle had come to the right home. He started to warm up to his new family in three days and caught on quickly despite his lack of sight. Riddle never had an accident in the house, and even though they were standoffish at first, Hull’s five other dogs soon took to Riddle.
“I can’t even imagine my life without him now,” Hull says.
Riddle is about 5 years old and has epilepsy, experiencing occasional violent seizures for the past two years. But neither blindness nor epilepsy will stop this pooch from living fully and inspiring people.
Riddle is the main attraction and spokesdog for Hull’s Haven’s “Yes! I Can” educational program. Hull takes Riddle and 11 other dogs to visit with children at schools and other places. During these sessions, Hull and volunteers use Riddle as an example for how kids can achieve their goals no matter what obstacles they face. Kids also learn about kindness to animals, the importance of spaying and neutering and other pet issues.
Hull wants kids to learn that “if you want something and you want it badly enough, and you work hard enough, you can do whatever you want if you put your mind to it,” Hull says. “By the end of our session, kids are screaming, ‘Yes I can!’”
Hull’s other blind dog, Yume, a red Border Collie, is afraid of children, but she is getting used to them through participation in the “Yes! I Can!” program. Hull got Yume at 2 months old from an Idaho breeder who asked Hull if she could give a forever home to the eyeless pup. Hull, now a pro with blind dogs, eagerly accepted Yume three years ago.
“I arrived at the airport, pulled her out of the crate and bawled my eyes out,” Hull says. “She’s just a soft, gentle, sweet girl.”
Courtesy of Hull’s Haven Border Collie Rescue
Despite being blind, these beautiful Border Collies demonstrate their breed’s natural athleticism.
Hull says that Riddle and Yume are closer to each other than any of the other dogs. In Hull’s yard, Riddle and Yume frolic, chase balls and catch them on vocal cue. Riddle runs with abandon (only bumping into objects occasionally) and gets more into the balls than Yume does. Watch a video of Riddle running, playing and catching balls and be prepared to be amazed.
“In my opinion, Riddle has a sixth sense and so does Yume,” Hull says. “They must have something because it’s absolutely phenomenal what they’re cable of doing.”
At Hull’s Haven Border Collie Rescue, the motto is “Mercy Knows No Bounds.” Such mercy also extends beyond geographic boundaries because the rescue doesn’t limit itself to Canadian dogs or even to Border Collies. Hull’s Haven has helped many dogs from beyond Canada’s borders, and other breeds of dogs, including Border Collie mixes and any dog in need, whether purebred or mixed breed.
People in the all-volunteer network of foster homes in the Winnipeg, Manitoba area provide temporary care and love in their homes until Hull’s Haven can find permanent homes for the dogs, although more difficult-to-place dogs can become long-term fosters. You can sponsor one of these dogs, or otherwise help by donating or volunteering.
Kellie Gormly is a Pittsburgh-based journalist otherwise known as “Mother Catresa” to homeless kittens and cats. Read about her adventures in fostering on her blog.
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