Happy Tail: A special Aussie shows spunky spirit

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You wouldn’t know it to look at her playing, but Theresina was born deaf and partially blind. Now totally blind, she picks up a deflated rubber ball and challenges the other dogs with a bark that says, “Come play with me.” The Australian Shepherd‘s impairments are a result of inheriting a particular type of color pattern gene, a merle gene, from each of her parents.

Theresina wears a big smile that matches her personality.

Theresina wears a big smile that matches her loving personality.

Luckily, she found a home with the Malfitanos of Watertown, CT, who encourage her to be all that she can be. She didn’t always have that kind of support; to the breeders who had her from birth, she was a throwaway dog. They hoped to make money on her, but when they discovered her disabilities, they relinquished her to B.A.R.K., a rescue group, and her description was posted on Petfinder.

Even after her adoption, the road to where she is today wasn’t smooth. After a few months in her new home, she started showing signs of aggression, particularly toward other dogs.

“I was going to return her to the rescue,” Trisha Malfitano says, “but [because of the aggression] they were going to just put her down. My family decided we would do whatever it took to find out what was going on with her and try to help.”

The help came in the form of a behavior modification program and medication. The result was phenomenal.

“She turned into a wonderful, loving addition to our family,” Trisha says, “and she continues to amaze us every day. She can move around the house and the yard without ever running into anything. She still runs after the other dogs, plays with toys and enjoys her daily walks. She loves training, too.” She has learned to step over an agility jump, stand on a small table and weave through poles.

She even goes scootering. Trisha stands on the scooter, and Theresina pulls it down the street, using the curb as a guide. “She may not win any races, but her tail wags the whole time,” Trisha says.

Seeing this indomitable dog in action makes you realize that she may be short on some of her faculties, but she’s long on pluck. Her spirit is an inspiration.