When Tim Livesey brings his three dogs with him during walks or on hiking trips, almost everyone they meet couldn’t help but let out a laugh. That’s because his Australian cattle dogs are all wearing goggles!
When strangers see Bella, Bolt, and Bonnie wearing their cool eyewear, they often ask their owner if they can take a photo of the adorable trio.
Then the inevitable questions would come, as people would ask him how he trained the dogs to wear the shades and why they needed to wear them.
Occasionally, people would tell him that the pups didn’t need eye protection. Of course, Tim has a list of witty replies ready in case strangers throw their questions and opinions at him.
Tim, 43, would tell them that they’re “self-conscious of their eye color,” “they need prescription doggles,” they want to “fit in with the cool crowd,” or that they’re like Bruce Wayne who needs to “hide their true identity.”
As funny as these responses are, the real-life stories of these dogs are rather heartbreaking.
Bella, 7, was found abandoned in a cardboard box with the rest of her litter. Bolt, 2, was born with a broken tail, so his breeder wanted nothing to do with him. Bonnie, 3, is deaf and rejected by her former owner.
Last year, when Tim heard that Bonnie needed a new home, he drove with Bella and Bolt to New Mexico to meet her on leap day. He learned that the cow dog was also born with a broken tail – a quality that Tim took as a sign.
Bonnie’s behavior toward him during their first meeting further strengthened his belief that she was meant to be a part of their family.
“Right when I met her, she immediately tried to jump up into my arms — just leaped up at me into my arms,” he recalled. “She’s a real sweet dog.”
Luckily, Bella and Bolt got along great with their new sibling. As if sensing that she had a disability, the two dogs became her protectors.
Less than two months after joining the family, Bonnie stopped to sniff a bush during an off-leash hike. When Bolt looked back at her, he let out a ferocious bark. Bella then ran after him and approached Bonnie to chase off a coyote creeping up behind her.
“Bonnie had no idea the coyote was there,” Tim said. “He took off running. I called the dogs back and everything was fine. I was like, ‘OK, they’re her protection ears.'”
Now, the three pups are Tim’s constant companions on his outdoor adventures. Through positive reinforcement, he has trained them to wear goggles to protect their eyes from the sun’s ultraviolet rays and cactus spines.
Their daily morning routine involves taking a 7-mile walk near their home in Henderson, Nevada. They also go on evening hikes at least once a weeknight. The weekends are reserved for longer treks, like when they climbed Charleston Peak in southern Nevada.
Since Bonnie has special needs, Tim makes the cow dog wear a vibrating collar with a remote control in case he needs to get her attention when she’s not leashed.
Her pink collar and leash also bear the words “I’m deaf,” while her vest says “Deaf Puppy,” so that strangers don’t scare her by petting her from behind.
Tim also trains the trio to understand verbal cues and hand signals. This training is useful, especially when the time comes that their age snatches away their hearing or vision. He said the easiest one to train was Bonnie since she’s deaf and often makes eye contact.
Although it comes with its challenges, Tim says he has zero regrets about adopting a deaf cow dog. In fact, he has simple advice for anyone considering adopting a dog like Bonnie: “Do it.”
Follow Beauties and the Bolt on Instagram to keep up with this adorable trio’s latest outdoor escapades!