We are excited to announce our Rescue of the Month for May, Double J Dog Ranch! We were introduced to Double J by the rescue we are currently fostering for, Miller’s Cause Animal Rescue.
A few months ago, Miller’s Cause Animal Rescue posted a sweet puppy on their Facebook stating she needed a foster home. Luna’s breeder gave her away for free but luckily she was introduced to Miller’s Cause and brought into the program. I was told she was a vision impaired Double Merle and had no idea what that meant but took the opportunity head on. I quickly began researching the cause of double merle dogs and they have tugged at my heart strings ever since.
What is a Double Merle? Double Merle puppies are born when both parents have the merle gene. It doesn’t matter what color merle, how much merle the parents have, what breed they are, or even that the parents are the same breed. Breeds most notably affected by the merle gene include shepherds, collies and sheepdogs. Also affected are Dachshunds, Pomeranians, Chihuahuas, Pit Bull Terriers, Cocker Spaniels and Great Danes. Statistically, 25% of puppies from two merle parents will be Double Merles.
What does it mean to be a Double Merle dog? Double Merle pups have a predominantly white coat. Due to the decreased pigment on the skin, they are at a high risk of hearing and sight impairments. Often Double Merle puppies are born blind and/or deaf. Other more severe physical limitations and conditions remain such as a dog being born without eyes, paws or other vital organs. At times Double Merle’s have been known to be killed by their breeder as they are not profitable. Many breeders give them away for free and do not disclose the defects the dog has. Not all Double Merle's have been as lucky as Luna and Wally.
The day we brought Luna home I instantly fell in love. She was a tiny white ball of fluff with so much personality. She has quickly caught on to potty training, learning basic commands and is the perfect playmate to her foster siblings. A week after bringing Luna home a co-worker of mine told me her son was given a deaf and blind all white dog for free over the weekend. I instantly assumed he was a Double Merle. After much consideration my co-workers son and girlfriend agreed to bring him into Miller’s Cause Animal Rescue. I offered to temporarily foster while they found a long-term foster for him. They were put in contact with Double J Dog Ranch who offered to take him into their program which specializes in Double Merle dogs.
Who is Double J Dog Ranch? They are a Rescue Organization located in Idaho that specialize in special needs dogs, specifically Double Merles. The founder, Cristene Justus, shares her 50 acres and home in Hauser Lake, Idaho with the animals. The dogs experience a loving home environment vs institutional living. They receive care from dedicated professionals, including health care, nutrition and behavior. They are firm believers that to ensure successful placement of the special needs dogs they must be trained in basic obedience. Therefore, all the dogs are trained in the appropriate manner (hand signals or touch training) prior to being adopted.
The family who gave me the blind and deaf puppy, now named Wally and nicknamed Squishy, were a little hesitant at first to let him go that far. We are in Oklahoma and Double J is over 1,500 miles away. After doing much research and educating them, they decided to go for it. They knew it would give Squishy boy the best chance at a normal life. Keep in mind, this puppy who was given away for free to high schoolers was completely blind and deaf. Squishy finding Double J Dog Ranch was equivalent to hitting the lottery for him.
We knew we only had a few days left with Squishy and we were soaking it all in. At that time we had 5 dogs in our house. My husband would sleep on a mattress on the living room floor with the Double Merle puppies while I would sleep in the bedroom with our three boys. Luna and Squishy were BEST friends. They understood each other. They didn’t know they had disabilities; this is all they have ever known.
I was soon notified that a sweet flight attendant would be using her free flight miles to come all the way to Oklahoma to get Squishy and take him to Idaho. The goodbye was so difficult but knowing he was in amazing hands with Cristene made it all better. Squishy is currently living at Double J Dog Ranch with over a dozen special needs dogs just like him. He has been to an eye specialist, is learning touch training and is provided with the love and support he needs. He is now available for adoption and awaiting the perfect home. Luna is also available for adoption with Miller’s Cause rescue, but we are in no rush to say goodbye.
Double J Dog Ranch can not do all they do for Double Merle’s in need without the help from people like you. We will be donating 15% or more of our profits to their Rescue for the month of May. Truly that is not ‘thank you’ enough for all they are doing for our Squishy boy. If you can purchase apparel from us this month to help us support them, please do. If you can donate to them directly there is a link on our website. If you are unable to donate, please share. Double Merle dogs are 100% preventable. Education is vital. Bad breeding needs to come to an end. But until then, Double J Dog Ranch will continue to need our help.