By Josh Saunders
A ‘goofy’ rescue dog who looks like he is always pulling a silly face because his tongue constantly hangs out of his mouth is melting hearts online.
Stephanie Tran, 28, from Peoria, Arizona, adopted adorable eight-year-old Bernese mountain dog Elmer earlier this year.
She fell in love with the special needs dog due to his unusual looks and longing to be loved when she met him in January.
Elmer’s five-inch tongue flops from his mouth due to only having all but four teeth removed prior to being found wandering the streets by rescuers.
Due to his amusing appearance the dog has attracted 11,000 fans online, with people following the journey of the special needs dog.
The cute canine is also deaf, meaning owner Stephanie has had to learn how to communicate with Elmer.
Stephanie, catering coordinator, said: “He is deaf and has no teeth, he was found as a stray wandering around the city.
“I needed to have a goofy-looking dog, I felt bad for him and knew I needed to help this dog out.
“When they see him people often laugh at first, because of his tongue but then they think he is the friendliest goofball ever.
“The first thing anyone says is that, ‘he must be thirsty’ because his tongue is hanging out.
“I normally laugh and use it to explain the reason his tongue is like that because he has no teeth.
“Despite only having two molars on the top and bottom, he is really good at gobbling a whole mouthful of food and swallowing it.
“Elmer is also completely deaf, the only time I believe he hears is when another dog is barking really loudly, I feel he can hear really high sound waves.
“But if I’m standing next to him or come home from work, he has no idea.
“Special needs dogs require a lot of patience, it’s all about showing them unconditional love and the patience they need.
“He brings so much joy into my life, I love hanging him and wouldn’t change a thing about him, he is such a sweetheart.”
Stephanie explains the difficulties around trying to teach a deaf dog.
Often things take much longer and could require her to physically show the dog what she wants him to do.
Stephanie said: “It was a real challenge at first because I have never had a special needs dog, so letting him adjust was really hard at first because he couldn’t understand.
“Adapting him to routines was more difficult and recognising when he wanted to go out, when and how much to eat, knowing when and where to sleep.
“Almost all of the communication between him and I is through body language, signing and signals that he has learned.
“If I needed him to understand something I would need to try to show him, it was a long process.
Stephanie hopes his online presence helps to promote dogs with disabilities and educate others.
She added: “I think being able to watch a special needs dog’s journey, how they develop and showing they have a great life is a positive thing.
“It shows how rewarding it is to have a special needs dog and that people should adopt not shop.”
To follow Elmer’s journey visit: www.instagram.com/glued_by_elmer