Special needs border collie with her very own guide dog

A special needs dog saved from a kill shelter in Canberra has found a new leash on life in Brisbane thanks to her new furry foster friend, who instinctively took on the role of a seeing-eye dog.

Tahnee is a double merle border collie who suffers from a genetic mutation that has left her completely deaf and partially blind.

Tahnee and Charlie at their home in Kallangur. Picture: Josh Woning
Tahnee and Charlie at their home in Kallangur. Picture: Josh Woning


It is a heartbreaking consequence that occurs when breeders mate two merle-coated dogs together, leading 25 per cent of their puppies to have birth defects.

Hear No Evil, a dog rescue based in Brisbane, specialises in finding forever homes for double merle dogs and matched Tahnee with Caboolture resident and first-time foster volunteer Jess Roseworn.

Jess Roseworn with Charlie the labrador and Tahnee the border collie at home in Kallangur. Picture: Josh Woning
Jess Roseworn with Charlie the labrador and Tahnee the border collie at home in Kallangur. Picture: Josh Woning


Ms Roseworn was hesitant to take on Tahnee, unsure of how the dog would cope in a two-storey home, and whether she'd get along with her boisterous one-year-old labrador Charlie.

Little did she know, Charlie would quickly prove an invaluable asset to Tahnee, calming down to take on the role of her 'guide dog' and helping her to bravely navigate her new world.

"They bonded straight away, they've become completely inseparable," Ms Roseworn said.


"Tahnee tends to bounce off Charlie as a way to get her boundaries, and if they go running off somewhere and Tahnee veers off in the wrong direction, Charlie will stop and wait for her.

"When we're on a walk, Charlie will be out in front with Tahnee walking by his shoulder, so she can continuously hit him and know he's near.

"It's amazing."


The progress Tahnee has made in the three months since the family began fostering her has blown them away, helping them to shed stereotypes they'd held onto about special needs dogs.

"Before she arrived we baby-proofed the house so there was nothing sharp she could run into, and we put mats down at the top and bottom of the stairs so she could tell when she was nearing them, but apparently that wasn't needed at all," she said.

"We learned it takes blind dogs just two weeks of being in their environment to get the whole place mapped out.

"Deaf and vision impaired dogs adapt so well."

Tahnee will soon be up for adoption through Hear No Evil.

Originally published as Special needs border collie with her very own guide dog


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