A 25-year-old on Instagram answered a pressing question about how he raises his blind and deaf puppy.
Veterinary assistant Aiden Mann took in Plum, a blind and deaf Australian Shepherd, after Mann’s coworker brought her into the office for a checkup. The coworker was fostering Plum at the time, but Mann fell in love immediately.
It took a while for Mann to come up with ways to communicate to Plum — especially when she was sleeping. Once Mann figured it out, he shared the sweet tactic on TikTok, which quickly racked up over 56 million views.
“At first, when I’d come over and softly pet her it would scare her so much she would pee,” Mann told Hello Bark. “I tried stomping my feet for vibration and she wouldn’t wake up. Sometimes putting a treat in front of her worked but I didn’t always have treats on hand and it didn’t always work. One day when I got home from work, I knew she would pee if I startled her so I tried blowing on her. She woke up fine and didn’t pee and was excited that I was home.”
Mann says Plum taught him patience and new training techniques. The experience with a special needs dog has also made him better at his job. Mann hopes to use his platform to educate the public about Plum’s condition, a result of double merle breeding.
Merle breeding is when two dogs with the same specific gene that causes blindness and lack of pigment reproduce. When that happens, there’s a 25 percent chance the offspring will be a double merle.
“These puppies have excessive white coloration — lack of pigment — and this coloration causes loss of hearing, vision, or any combination of the two impairments,” Mann said. “Most often, these puppies are deaf, with vision impairments ranging from malformed pupils to a complete lack of eyeballs.”
But none of this got in the way of TikTok users falling in love with Plum.
One commenter summarized the general reaction best with, “I would die for Plum.”
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