Old, deaf and blind … and fitting in nicely

Meet the deaf and blind mutt who stole the Brandes family's hearts in Dubai.

Bodhi Brandes and his son Bentley with Sydney, who is deaf and blind. But she has found her place in the family pack. Razan Alzayani / The National
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DUBAI // Sydney the dog is deaf and blind, but you wouldn't notice it at first.

Her resilience and coping skills make her the most low-maintenance dog of the six in her new home in Al Barsha.

In a pink collar and scarf, the mixed-breed mutt hardly ever strays from her routine of strolling creakily around the garden during the day, popping back inside for drinks and regular meals.

"She sleeps in some odd corners and sometimes it takes a minute or two to find her," says Bodhi Brandes, who adopted Sydney this year after seeing a Facebook post by the Dubai Senior Dog Project.

"Sydney has settled in beautifully at our house. The garden is big and she wanders for hours in her funny, disjointed way. The other dogs all simply seem to accept her."

Bodhi's wife Camilla cares for other disabled pets at their villa. She says dogs like Sydney are often abandoned because it is believed they will be a burden.

"It is not only certain breeds or puppies that can bring joy to a family," says Camilla.

"It is sometimes easier to care for dogs like Sydney, especially older dogs, because they are calmer. Mixed breeds also tend to be healthier.

"There are good volunteer efforts like the Senior Dog Project, but more people should step up and see the value of such animals. It also teaches the children a lesson in care and kindness."

Elizabeth Hickey, a schoolteacher who provides foster support to dogs taken in by Animal Action in Abu Dhabi, says she actually prefers taking in older dogs.

"They have a very relaxed temperament and are easy to take care of," Elizabeth says.