Echo is a white dog with pointed ears and very wolf-like features around his face. At first glance, he appears cross eyed or as if one eye is bigger than the other. A special boy, he was born with abnormally formed eyes and is mostly blind, with limited vision in one eye.
Echo was transferred into HSSV from a local partner shelter to receive medical treatment for congenital hip issue. After surgery to repair his hip joint, he was made available for adoption. An energetic husky mix with special needs, Echo would need an understanding family that would be able to adapt to his quirks and appreciate him for the unique dog that he is.
When Alexia and her family came to visit HSSV, they were dead set on adopting a female dog – but when they saw Echo at the shelter, they just had to meet him. “My children loved him, and even my grandmother did,” Alexia wrote. “When it was time to meet the other dog on our list, Echo moved behind my son’s stroller. We like to say Echo chose us when he refused to leave my son’s side.”
Alexia and her family adopted Echo that day. His special bond with Alexia’s son seemed to grow instantly – and took on a new light when something startling was discovered about the young boy.
“When we brought Echo home, he bonded instantly with my son – wherever Nyctalus went, Echo would go. We noticed almost immediately Echo would gently nip my son’s shoulders and at the back of his shirt – a behavior often shown by Epilepsy Service Dogs.” It turns out, Nyctalus was having seizures – which were noticed by Alexia’s mother and diagnosed shortly thereafter.
Echo is a working dog breed, and though he is blind and deaf, he took to training easily and enthusiastically – and now he is learning a new job with his new family. “We are in the process of getting Echo certified as a Service Dog for my son,” Alexia writes. “Due to his blindness and partial deafness, he is being trained entirely by touch cues (one long stroke from top of nose down the muzzle to his head between the ears is ‘sit’). We found out very quickly he prefers freeze dried treats or ‘raw’ meat treats.”
Though Echo now has the very important job of alerting his family when Nyctalus has seizures, he still has plenty of time to run, play, lounge and be a dog in the loving arms of his new family.
“Echo is always full of new wonderful quirks and his favorite thing is chasing the ball and learning new skills,” says Alexia. “He’s very playful and seems to love playing with our cat and the neighborhood dogs. He loves going for runs with me early in the morning and likes to play with the wild bunnies. Sometimes, he howls and ‘play talks’ before rough housing with us or other dogs.”
“His favorite space in the house is a green lawn chair outside. Whenever I work at my desk Echo finds a space under my legs and ‘nibbles’ on my ankles. It’s very entertaining! Despite being blind and partially deaf, Echo still loves to run, cuddle, chew up his toys and play catch. He is an amazing agility course runner (we have a mini one set up). We love him so much.”
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