From the moment Joanne George met Smiley, she knew that he was going to change her life forever.
This 12-year-old golden retriever has a rare condition that caused him to be born without eyes, but even though he came into this world with physical limitations, he was also born with an incredible heart.
Now a trained service dog, George knew that this remarkable pooch’s calling was to help people in need — and she knew that because she experienced his therapeutic powers first hand. Over the years, the two have developed an unshakable bond, and together, they seek out hearts that need healing.
Smiley’s life before meeting Mom was full of heartache. When George found him at a puppy mill when he was 2 years old, he was covered in wounds and scars. Despite all that, the dog had a bright, positive spirit.
From the second she laid eyes on him, she knew that this dog would quickly become part of her family.
“He came to me at a rough time in my life,” George explained to ViralNova. “He got me through 3 years of being alone. We were never apart, and he even accompanied me on my first date with my future husband.”
When the time came, Smiley even helped George become the best mother she could possibly be by reinforcing the importance of patience, compassion, and unconditional love.
After taking a step back and thinking about how many obstacles the dog had helped her overcome, she realized that the loyal, unceasingly kind pup could do the same for others. That’s when she started training him to be a therapy dog.
“He was a gift, and I needed to share him,” she writes.
He’s particularly fond of children, and over the years, he’s helped kids smile in the face of trauma, illness, and heartbreak.
Most recently, he welcomed a group of Syrian refugees to Canada with a wagging tail and a gracious heart.
As George explained, “I could not speak their language, but Smiley speaks every language. Smiles and laughter are the same in every corner of the world.”
“I watched 20 children light up when they met him as we checked into our hotel, which had been their home since arriving to Canada several months before. The staff said that they’d never seen the children so happy.” And honestly, who could resist that face?
What’s even more incredible is that many of those children told social workers that they were uncomfortable around dogs. But when Smiley showed up, his gentle spirit let the children know that they were in safe paws.
And that story serves as a window into the dog’s boundlessly compassionate soul.
“Meeting Smiley usually teaches people a few important lessons,” George writes. “The first is to accept yourself for who you are, and to do the same toward others. The second is to overcome any obstacle that stands in your way. The third is to make a positive impact on someone else’s life whenever the chance presents itself.”
And in that regard, Smiley’s career as a therapy dog has been a resounding success.
The fact that Joanne George and Smiley decided to spread compassion together speaks volumes about the two of them as individuals, and about their incredible harmony as a pair.