Hope the dachshund doesn't let being blind and deaf stop her
She's a 5-year-old dachshund who was born with no eyes, and is completely deaf as a result of a backyard breeder.
But she doesn't let it hold her back.
"When I look at her and think ... she can't see and she can't hear, and how limiting must that be for her? But she's really not limited," said Lauren Kramer-Theuerkauf, Hope's owner. "She embodies the true spirit of an emergent hero."
As funny as it sounds, Kramer-Theuerkauf, of Freeburg, said Hope's blindness and deafness was what drew her to the dog when she saw her profile on a dachshund rescue website. She wanted a dachshund, and she was interested in getting another differently abled dog. She already had Penny, a 7-year-old Chiweenie, a Chihuahua and dachshund mix, with a deformed front paw, and Adriel, a Chihuahua whose tongue sticks out because it's longer than her mouth.
Hope was a puppy when she joined the Kramer-Theuerkauf family. The breeder was going to kill her, and when his wife died, he took her to an animal rescue.
"Having several differently abled animals, I know how challenging it can be for them to not get adopted," Kramer-Theuerkauf said. "They're the first animals that get put on the euthanasia list. People think 'Oh it's so much work ... you have to take all these extra precautions, but you really don't."
Hope learned the layout of the house within a week, simply from walking around and bumping into walls. Each time she hit a wall, she'd shake herself off and turn around, never making a sound, Kramer-Theuerkauf said.
That's why Kramer-Theuerkauf entered Hope in the American Humane Hero Dog Awards as an emergent hero. She'll compete against 265 other dogs to be named the nation's top dog.
You can vote for Hope once a day until April 25. After that, the top three dogs in each category will go through a second round of votes to narrow the pool down to the top dog in each of the seven categories. Those seven dogs will be flown to Los Angeles and be celebrated at a red carpet awards gala in September, when the American Hero Dog will be revealed.
"(Hope) never feels sorry for herself, never just sits. She's a very active dog; she's a very happy dog," Kramer-Theuerkauf said. "She just inspires me every day."
Kramer-Theuerkauf made a Facebook and Instagram page for Hope, to show that while she was differently abled, she's not disabled. She's known on social media as the "Queen Ween," and has thousands of followers. Hope has also been featured on the Dodo, which Kramer-Theuerkauf compared to the feeling of winning an Oscar or Grammy.
Penny and Adriel also have their own Facebook and Instagram pages, and Penny has a children's book, "Priceless Penny," detailing her journey from California to Illinois to find a home. Adriel is a therapy dog.