When animal foster carer Belinda Scougall introduced 12-week-old rescue puppy Marshall to her home in Ballarat, he was in desperate need of some TLC.
The Jack Russell fox terrier cross was born with no eyes and was being pecked by chickens at the property where he was living. Marshall was severely underweight after being fed nothing but home brand dog food, but he was also a tiny ball of personality, and not surprisingly Belinda fell in love.
"I had him for a month when he was advertised as being up for adoption," says Belinda, who was eventually selected over other prospective owners whose homes weren't suitable for a variety of reasons, from stairs, to an open fireplace, a newborn baby, or the likelihood of Marshall living life outside with other dogs. He is inside a majority of the time at Belinda's house, but she says he does love his runs outside, his "blind dog" accessories alerting others to the fact he's visually unaware of his surrounds.
When Marshall first arrived, Belinda strapped blankets around the edges of the door frames until he became familiar with the layout of each room. He also has a ramp leading up to her bed. "If I move things around I have to show him the way around so he can get reused to the place," says Belinda, admitting that drying items on the clothes horse during winter is usually met with surprise. "He's coped better with Liley here (Belinda's border collie corgi terrier cross), he follows her around."
Marshall's lack of sight means his sense of smell and hearing are sharply acute, guiding him everywhere he needs to be. "He can be asleep, snoring on my bed, and if I open a packet of something, he'll be right here," laughs Belinda. Marshall's reliance on smell and sound was pivotal during the two rounds of puppy school he attended. "I've had dogs that were deaf before and they're probably easier to train because they can see the other dogs doing it," says Belinda.
When he's not being smothered in love by Belinda, Marshall laps up the attention given to him at the nursing home where she volunteers. "The residents love him," she says.