He can't see, and he's not very big — but as dogs go, Xander the pug is having a big impact on his community in Klamath Falls, Oregon. The blind pup has even made the front page of the local paper, for bringing empathy and happiness to people for whom such things are in short supply.
At only a bit more than one year old, Xander hasn't had an easy life. An accident required surgery to remove his eyes, and he sometimes has trouble breathing. But after he was adopted from an animal shelter in January, things started to turn around for Xander, as Samantha Tipler reports for Klamath Falls' The Herald and News.
He was adopted by Marcie and Rodney Beedy, joining the seven other pugs at their home. They say they knew Xander would do well as a therapy dog — something Tipler saw proof of, as a class of preschoolers thronged around the dog to pet him and give his curly tail a gentle tug.
"Xander didn't flinch at the peals of laughter," Tipler writes. "He didn't get anxious in the crowd. For him, it was business as usual."
The dog now spends time with anyone who needs companionship, from children who have been abused to nursing home residents who may be feeling lonely. He also helps kids who are afraid of dogs cope with their fear, and appears for the Oregon-based anti-violence group the Hands and Words are Not for Hurting Project.
"If I was blind and in a crowd of people on top of me I would be freaking out," Rodney Beedy tells Tipler. "He has no qualms whatsoever. He has a good stable temperament."