Having been without a home for nearly 200 days, this deaf and blind dog is finally adopted into a family that can accommodate his unique needs.
Ernie was born on a Texas ranch with near-total deafness and blindness. His owner was concerned that life on a ranch would be too hazardous for a disabled puppy, so he gave him up to a shelter where he spent the first 200 days of his life between Texas Humane Heroes and another shelter.
It may have appeared to be a long wait for the perfect forever home. However, some good things are worth the delay. While Ernie was in the shelter, the ideal family was in the process of forming and would eventually come for him.
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During this time, Steve, a veteran’s son, was completing his military service. He served in the National Guard and was an active-duty anti-tank infantryman for 10 years, serving in the Middle East during Operation Iraqi Freedom. While on duty, Steve was injured by an IED, which led to his transfer to military intelligence.
Like many soldiers, Steve fell in love and got married during his service. Soon after, he and his wife became foster parents to two brothers, Nathan and Cole. Nathan has Coats Disease, a retinal condition that has caused blindness in his left eye since birth, and both boys have autism spectrum disorder.
Steve’s army career and the lingering effects of post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury gave him insight into the challenges his children faced. He empathized with their unique needs and eventually adopted them.
After Steve’s retirement, the family relocated to central Texas, but the couple eventually divorced. Steve was faced with loneliness and decided that it was time to get a dog, as he had promised his boys.
Steve started searching for the perfect pet, but it didn’t happen overnight. In the meantime, he worked to assist and support soldiers. However, eventually, his search led him to Ernie. He felt compassion for Ernie, and the two became companions. When Steve learned that Ernie had spent almost 200 days in the shelter, he adopted him and gave him the new name Private.
He has spent a lot of time helping Private adjust to his new home and knows him well. He quickly learned how to communicate with the dog. “I snap my fingers when I want to get his attention which usually works.” Steve explains, “Or if he’s near something I can touch, he responds to the vibrations.”
Private also has a great way of getting Steve’s attention. “He likes to be petted. His favorite spot is just under the chin, where the nose meets the neck. He loves to be petted there.” says Steve. “If I stop petting him, he wants more with his paws. It’s like he’s saying, how dare you stop?”
Steve and Private have formed a strong bond and are now inseparable friends. Despite being blind, Private loves car rides and enjoys sticking his head out the window. He also gets along well with Steve’s sons and they are very kind and patient with him, taking into consideration his unique needs.
We hope this heartwarming rescue story has touched your heart. Private may have had to wait a long time, but his new family considers him a superstar and adores him. Please feel free to share this story with your loved ones.