A rare albino dachshund who struggled to find his forever home is now living his best life – and even has his own Instagram account.
Eight-year-old Duke, who lives in Texas with adoring owner Mercedes Andrade, a 38-year-old accountant, is all white with a pink nose and light blue eyes.
As well as his unusual complexion, the hound’s condition means he is partially deaf and blind. He is extremely sensitive to sunlight and has to wear a hat and sunscreen, and also has a dilated cardiomyopathy, which means his heart is bigger than normal.
But despite his problems, Duke leads a fun-filled life and Mercedes, who took him on in 2013, says it was love at first sight.
‘Until the day I met Duke, I had never seen or heard of an albino dachshund,’ she admits.
‘Creams, dapples, blue, greys, piebalds, merles – seen them all, but pristine white with a pink nose and blue eyes, never!’
Because of his unique features, Duke is often stopped by people at parks and receives dozens of admiring messages from his 3,755 followers on his Instagram account.
Mercedes adds: ‘Almost everyone who approaches him says they’ve never seen an albino one before.
‘He gets a lot of attention and loves every minute of it, and they often request to take photos of him.
‘I normally get a lot of messages on his Instagram saying that he’s absolutely beautiful and when I read his messages to him, it’s like he knows how special he really is.’
Mercedes tells how Duke didn’t appeal to many potential owners due to his special needs, but she couldn’t resist taking him.
‘We were not looking to adopt a dog that day, but we paid the cute puppies a visit,’ she recalls.
‘Among the playing puppies, there he was, the smallest of them – a white, blue-eyed, pink-nosed cutie.
‘You couldn’t help but notice how stunning he was. He chose us to be his family, not the other way around. He knew that he would be in a safe and happy home.
‘Duke is a special needs dog. He is lucky in that he is not fully blind and deaf like most albinos, but he has his fair share of issues.
‘His pupils are heavily distorted, but he still has some vision in his left eye – just enough to get around. He is also partially deaf, hearing best only high-pitched sounds, such as a whistle. Both of these things make training more difficult than normal.’
Despite this, Mercedes says Duke is a loving dog who loves getting dressed up and playing hide and seek. He also trusts his older sister – a fellow dachshund called Dior – for directions.
‘Duke is unlike any other dachshund I’ve had. He is loving with everyone and loves to be loved,’ she enthuses.
‘He loves playing fetch with all his toys, morning and evening walks, and to my pleasant surprise, loves his bandanas and getting his pictures taken.
‘He has learned a version of hide and seek – he will go into the closet and close the door. He’ll then scratch at the door so you can find him.’
Mercedes says in the dark times of Covid-19, Duke has been a blessing, giving joy to many: ‘Duke and I are stuck like glue and in his opinion, this pandemic has probably been the best thing ever, since it means I’m home with him every single day!’
Follow Duke on Instagram.