Smiley, the golden retriever who was born blind and with a smile on his face is on his deathbed after battling cancer for years.
In an Instagram post, the owner shared the sad news to the more than 190,000 followers that Smiley will be put to sleep tomorrow.
Smiley is a certified child therapy dog who has won fans all over the globe. As the account that gives regular updates to the fans worldwide broke the news, people are devastated.
A heartbreaking picture shows a hand holding Smiley’s paw as he enters his final hours, having endured a painful battle against cancer.
A caption alongside the image, posted by owner Joanne George, said: “It’s the only way to repay what he’s done for us all. We will let him go tomorrow. He’s had enough.”
Joanne had revealed on Facebook three months ago that masses were found on the dog’s liver and stomach, and that he didn’t have long to live.
He has spent more than 12 years visiting hospitals, care homes and schools, bringing cheer to patients in their darkest moments.
Smiley, 15, had a rough start at life. He was born in a crowded barn with more than 100 other dogs, and had a hard time surviving because of his disability. The other dogs were easy to find homes for, but Smiley was a difficult sell. He would hide under tables and cower at strange sounds.
He stayed at a puppy mill for the first two years of his life before he was adopted by Joanne and family in 2004. His eyes were later sewn shut in order to prevent infection.
Over the years the Instagram account has shared hundreds of pictures of Smiley’s distinctive grin, along with the people he has helped.
In 2015, his owner told the Huffington Post: “He does something to people. People say they feel like a different person after meeting Smiley.”
His condition is similar to that of dwarfism which has caused his teeth to overgrow, resulting in a face that appears to be constantly smiling.
As a part of his job, Smiley would comfort young children who experience a death close to them. He used to sit with disabled youngsters as well.
Joanne told the Huffington Post: “These kids who were born with different disabilities are able to see that dogs, too, are born with the same disabilities.
“It’s important for them to see that Smiley has overcome, and that he’s happy.”
In March 2015, Joanne recounted to ABC how Smiley had made a huge impact on a severely disabled man he visited in a nursing home.
She said: “There was this man Teddy, [he had] no speech, no communication at all. [The staff] had never seen Teddy smile before.
“[Teddy] smiled when Smiley got into his vision.”
The staff were amazed by the transformation, and they were quick to realize that Smiley was a very special dog.
After today’s picture was uploaded online, thousands posted to pay tribute to Smiley.
Marcia Coffin Wheatley wrote on Facebook: “It’s a funny thing to fall in love with a dog or a person you’ve never met. But Smiley has been one of those who has touched my heart in more ways than I can imagine. I’m sending you hugs and prayers for his passing and the days to come.”
And Melody Weber Richard added: “I am literally crying for a precious dog and family I have never met but have both touched my heart. Thank you for sharing Smiley’s journey with us and his precious smile each day.”
Smiley helped and inspired many over the years. Now after a long battle with cancer, he will be put to sleep to relieve him of the pain he has suffered. But he will remain in everyone’s heart as one brave and happy dog. Thank you for everything you did, Smiley.