By Kara Sewell
KWCH 12 Eyewitness News
11:31 AM CDT, September 21, 2012
Born blind and deaf, a Wichita great dane is nearly euthanized because of his disabilities. But 'Gumby' is now thriving thanks to one rescue group and a family's dedication.
Weighing in at nearly 130 pounds, being blind and deaf wasn't Gumby's only disadvantage. Kansas K-9 rescue group tells Eyewitness News anchor Kara Sewell it's difficult enough to place a large dog - he barely fits in this twin-sized bed.
But nothing could sway Akiko Tsuda. With her soft heart and one look, Akiko took on Gumby's challenges; she says it hasn't been easy.
"We just have to do a lot of different things to see what fits him and what doesn't fit him," says Akiko Tsuda.
Teaching him to walk on a leash was the biggest hurdle. She sewed a vest for him to wear so others would understand his limitations.
"We don't do a lot of tricks or commands. we stick with the basics because life is hard enough," says Tsuda.
Gumby understands half a dozen special signs. Akiko found many of them online and communicates through touch.
Patting his back means sit down, touching his chest tells him to step up and patting the top of his head means wait.
"You be consistent with the same sign, meaning the same thing for the dog," says Tony Wenger with Kansas K9 Rescue.
Wenger says in their 12 years Gumby is the first blind and deaf dog they've rescued. But they've placed many deaf or blind dogs and when trained flourish in their new home.
"I think it's a win-win. he gets to have a good home and you don't have a lot of win-wins in the world and i get to be in the presence of his innocence," says Tsuda.
And that presence may be the strongest sense of all for Gumby.
The third week in September is national dog deaf awareness week.
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