Despite having been born without eyes and raised in a puppy mill, Smiley the golden retriever lives up to his name.
In fact, he is so energetic and playful, he works as a therapy dog, bringing smiles to the faces of many, particularly those who suffer from mental and physical disabilities. Over the course of his 12-year life, he's helped hundreds of people.
CBS News reported that Smiley was born with dwarfism and forced to spend his earlier years in a puppy mill before Joanne George, owner of Training the K9 Way, a dog training service in Stouffville, Canada, adopted him. She had his eyes sewn shut to alleviate his discomfort. The empty eye sockets used to get infected frequently, as they were traps for germs. As a puppy, he wasn't expected to live very long — that is, until George came along.
"People were so drawn to him, so inspired by him," George told CBS. "I realized this dog has to be a therapy dog — I have to share him."
She then began training Smiley to become a certified therapy dog, and eventually, he joined the St. John Ambulance Therapy Dog program.
The dog spends hours every day visiting patients at nursing homes and sitting amongst special needs kids for a library reading program near Stouffville.
At a particular nursing home, a man named Teddy was unable to speak, but it didn't stop Smiley from trying to communicate with him. George told CBS: "One day, Smiley put his feet up in front of [Teddy] and he started smiling and making noise. All of the nurses rushed into the room and said they've never seen him smile — never seen any kind of reaction." Teddy is now the first person he sees whenever he visits the home.
By example, Smiley has taught people not to dwell on a disability, where they came from, or what happened to them early on in life.
Though he may be entering the last leg of his life, his "tail will never stop wagging," George said.