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For the first two years of his life, Smiley the golden retriever had it pretty rough. Born without eyes, the dog was born and raised in a puppy mill.

Until Joanne George saved him from a dire fate. According to her blog post on Training the K9 Way, she adopted the pup and trained him to be a therapy dog.

At first, things were tough. “He was nervous and had many anxieties about coming into a home,” George wrote on her blog. ” He cowered at the sound of another dog eating — the scars on his face and ears told me the stories of what it was like living with so many dogs in such deplorable conditions.”

But after a lot of training, he became more confident and happy.

“People were so drawn to him, so inspired by him,” George said to CBS News. “I realized this dog has to be a therapy dog — I have to share him.”

Eleven years later, Smiley has lived up to his name. Not only has he helped those in need, but he was also the ring bearer at George’s wedding.

“Dogs can come back from anything, they forget their past,” she told CBS. “We as humans, dwell on the past.”

Read next: Weight-Loss Secrets From a Formerly Obese Dachshund

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