If you’re in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), you may already know this celebrity team. They’ve graced the pages of the local newspaper, magazine, and also shared the stage with Cesar Millan. Their evolving story and partnership has been shared a number of times but it's a real life story that can always be shared again and again, and of course we wanted to share Smiley with you too!

Over 8 years ago, Joanne George was at a puppy mill that the SPCA was investigating where she and a veterinarian vaccinated, spayed and neutered, rescued and re-homed 15 of the dogs there. Among the group was a dog that was given the name Smiley. Joanne knew this little guy needed a very special home and in the end, that special home turned out to be hers. Already at least a year old when he was found, Smiley was born without eyes and that predisposed him to many behavioral issues.  It took a lot of love and guidance from Joanne, who is a dog trainer (www.trainingthek9way.com) and her late Great Dane, Tyler, to teach Smiley how to be a regular dog leading a regular pet life. In turn, Smiley gave back to Joanne in ways she could never have imagined.

Within a year of Smiley acclimatizing to his new home, Joanne began to notice how Smiley touched everyone he met and she realized Smiley should be shared with as many people as possible.  His happy go-lucky disposition charms his friends and taught Joanne the power of patience and sensitivities of her energy level around him. How she tunes herself to Smiley has translated into her own easy going demeanor in her own life. 

“I knew he would be such a great therapy dog - he already was anyways - he was my therapy dog. The quote ‘the dogs we really need, are the ones that come to us’ is very true in this case.   I am a better human being and mother because of him.”

Smiley joined the St. John Ambulance (SJA) Therapy Dog program in May of 2010 and the partnership between Joanne and Smiley was something to behold by all who meet them. The blind dog walks with Joanne trusting in her guidance through purely her voice and energy. He embodies the essence of dealing with the card life dealt him and moving on with it positively, or should I say, pawsitively. This team’s inspirational story inspires others – in fact, it was Smiley and Joanne who inspired Head-Lites dog Piper to join the SJA program as well!

Milton based photographer Stacey Morrison captures the beauty of Smiley and his bond with Joanne and her son, Shepherd, in this wonderful series of images on her Happy Tails Pet Photography Blog.

The world smiles with you Smiley, thanks for lighting a sBark in us. Check out Smiley's new Facebook Page!

Thank yous to Joanne George and Happy Tails Pet Photography for the use of their photos in this article.