Deaf dog's pack provides 'protection ears' on outdoor adventures

When strangers catch sight of three Australian cattle dogs wearing goggles on hiking trails, they usually laugh and try to take a photo. Sometimes they’ll ask their handler, Tim Livesey, how he trained them to wear the shades. But occasionally people argue with him that dogs don’t need eye protection.So Livesey keeps a quiver of witty replies ready when someone demands, “Why are you doing that to your dogs?”

“They are self-conscious of their eye color.”

“They need prescription doggles to read the map so they don't get lost.”

“To fit in with the cool crowd.”

“Just like Bruce Wayne, to hide their true identity so they can lead a normal life when out on the town!”
Strangers are often intrigued when they meet three Australian cattle dogs wearing goggles to protect their eyes from cactus spines and UV rays.Tim Livesey
The true story of the dogs is heartwarming. All three animals had rough beginnings. Bella, 7, was abandoned in a cardboard box with the rest of her litter. Bolt, 2, was born with a broken tail, so he had no value for his breeder. Bonnie, 3, is deaf, and her owner didn’t want her anymore.

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Trending stories,celebrity news and all the best of TODAY. When Livesey learned the deaf cattle dog needed a new home, he drove with Bella and Bolt to meet her in New Mexico on leap day earlier this year. The fact that Bonnie had also been born with a broken tail seemed like a sign.

So did her response to him.

“Right when I met her, she immediately tried to jump up into my arms — just leaped up at me into my arms,” he told TODAY. “She’s a real sweet dog.”

Bonnie fit right into Livesey's pack on the very first day they met.Tim Livesey
Bonnie and Bolt got along great with the new member of their pack and soon became not just friends, but protectors.
Less than two months after she joined the family, Bonnie had stopped to sniff a bush during an off-leash hike. Bolt looked back to check on her and suddenly let loose a ferocious bark. Bella raced after him as they charged toward Bonnie — to chase off the coyote sneaking up behind her.

“Bonnie had no idea the coyote was there,” Livesey said. “He took off running. I called the dogs back and everything was fine. I was like, 'OK, they’re her protection ears.'”