Meet the new member of our family, Aspen Blue.
Rochelle and I work with a breeder we’re good friends with for when we get a new dog, but we try to make every other dog that joins our family a rescue dog. Buddy, for instance was a rescue. And technically Eowyn is because her initial family rejected her.
We’ve known Aspen for a couple of months now and have shared foster duties for him. Aspen was dealt a pretty shitty hand of cards genetics wise, he’s a Miniature Australian Shepherd bred double blue merle. If you’re wondering what that means this link gives you all the information.
Aspen is deaf and partially blind in one eye. He’s also mildly epileptic (we believe that his epilepsy is now at the right medication level as he has not had a seizure in a month)
Breeding double merles is an incredibly cruel and irresponsible thing to do. In the genetics lottery you will statistically lose a quarter of the litter being stillborn, and another quarter to half of the litter being born deaf or blind or both. Breeders do it because for those that survive with healthy traits, as you can see from Aspen’s picture his coat is a beautiful marble of white and grey and blue, doesn’t shed, and is the softest fur I have ever felt. So healthy ones fetch a crazy high price.
The rest are culled or abandoned. It’s an absolutely shitty thing to do as a breeder and I hope I never meet Aspen’s. Breeding two merle trait dogs isn’t illegal but is absolutely frowned upon in the dog breeding community, the American Kennel Association refuses to register double merles and dog shows usually do not allow them to be shown. I’m getting pissed off just writing this.
But Aspen? This boy doesn’t have any idea he’s been dealt a shitty hand. He’s a happy one year old that plays in the yard, runs around like a normal puppy, and like most Aussie shepherds is a bit of a mountain goat in terms of climbing on things like couches and tables.
He gets along great with Eowyn and Adia, and one of the fun personal growth challenges with caring for him is learning doggy sign language (there is such a thing!) and making sure that however long he’s with us he has an amazing life. He’s sensitive to vibration so although he cannot “hear” if you thump the floor he knows to look at you and sometimes feel the vibration of your voice.
While the prospects of him having a normal life span grow better every day, he’s still young enough that problems (like the recently developed epilepsy) could impact his quality of life. But dogs like Aspen face a real challenge in being adopted (and in some cases, like the issue with epilepsy if it wasn’t controlled, are deemed “not adoptable” and have to be put down) so we’re glad to step up and help.
With his being deaf he won’t get to enjoy all the things we like to do like our free roam dog park (it’s too big and his vision problem means recalling him is really difficult at a distance) but he will get to see his Flyball friends every week, his wonderful foster parents who gave him this chance at a forever home, He’s happy taking a break in his crate while we take the goldens to the park, and in every other way he’s a normal puppy. He even has a cool bright blue torso harness that says “I’m deaf! AND AWESOME!” for when we walk him or take him places so people know. He’s already a big favorite at our local pet supply store All The Best.
If you’re going to get a puppy, be sure to go through a reputable breeder and not a puppy mill like a pet store or something.
But if you get a chance, consider a rescue. The challenges can be great but the rewards are too. So welcome to the family boy blue*!
*Yes I have already taken to yelling “You’re my boy, Blue!” from Old School at him. He can’t hear me, but it makes me chuckle every time. I’m easily amused.