See Keegan run
It’s a warm Thursday afternoon, and Keegen the Beagle is enjoying his puppycino at a Casa Linda coffee shop. He sports a colorful sweater and matching sunglasses. He laps up the drink, (a cup of whipped cream topped with doggie treats) and sniffs around the table. Customers walk by and comment on how cute the pup is, complimenting his style and demeanor.
Even when he isn’t longer wearing the sunglasses, no one comments on his most defining feature: Keegan doesn’t have eyes.
For owners Ashley Hutto and Tiffany Huffmaster, that is precisely the point. Keegan can get along in the world and with other dogs (they have eight rescued beagles at their house) just fine.
In 2015, Keegan was picked up wandering in Rockwall. The 3-year-old beagle had glaucoma, heartworms, tapeworms and sarcoptic mange, so he had very little fur. He was already blind, but pressure was building behind his eyes, and the only way to save his life was to remove them.
Hutto and Huffmaster opted for the surgery and began to rehab him until he could be adopted elsewhere.
“It took us a week or two to fail,” Hutto says of their attempt to foster Keegan. They were won over by his sunny disposition and the quick way he adapted to life as a blind dog. He figured out how to use the doggie door in 24 hours, and he never needed the scented markers that are said to help blind dogs find their way outside or to their food.
“The thought of him having to adjust somewhere else seemed inappropriate,” Huffmaster says.
Hutto and Huffmaster have made it their mission to take on some of the more time-intensive beagles, many of which have age, health or behavior issues that make them a tough sell for forever homes. Keegan, Kouper, Khloe, Kash, Klaire, Kirtley, Abby and Tatum love to run in the yard and play their own brand of chase, Hutto says.
Keegan impresses his owners with his resilience, only rarely running into his beagle buddies while they are playing, and has learned to step up when he hears “step” and to veer left or right when he hears “watch out” while playing in the backyard.
Hutto and Huffmaster aren’t the only ones who are impressed. Keegan has over 1,200 followers on Facebook, and has been featured on CBS 11. He corresponds with other beagles all over the world and always writes on his own branded stationery. He and his pack of beagles have calendars, Christmas pajama parties, Easter egg hunts, and he has taken good citizen classes that could help him become a therapy dog one day.
But for his owners, Keegan is all about fighting the stigma against what may be considered “unadoptable” dogs. Others who have or are looking at blind dogs have reached out to them, and they are happy to reassure others that it can be done.
“It’s not as big of a deal as it appears to be,” Huffmaster says. “It seems like it is dramatic, but they get around pretty well and use their other senses. He is pretty normal.”
Hutto agrees. “It doesn’t have to be a death sentence.”
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