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Democracy

'Mama, this is so hard'—fallen Russian soldier sends heartbreaking text before his death

russian soldier text to mother
Photo by Egor Myznik on Unsplash

'Mama, I'm in Ukraine. There is a real war raging here. I'm afraid…'

In his final moments, a fallen Russian soldier reached out to his mother. His words are full of regret, confusion and fear.

The text reads:

Mama, I'm in Ukraine. There is a real war raging here. I'm afraid. We are bombing all of the cities together, even targeting civilians. We were told that they would welcome us, and they are falling under our armored vehicles, throwing themselves under the wheels, and not allowing us to pass. They call us fascists. Mama, this is so hard.”

This was after his mother worriedly asked about his whereabouts, why he hadn’t responded to her. She wanted to send her son a package, something to bring the comfort of home. You know, like moms do. She’ll never get to send that package. Or see her boy again. Only minutes later, he was killed.


A transcript of their conversation was read aloud by Ukrainian Ambassador Sergiy Kyslytsya in front of the U.N. General Assembly as an earnest call to “visualize the magnitude or tragedy” caused by Russia’s invasion.

And the tragedy is indeed massive. This is an act of violence and corruption that leaves both the people of Ukraine and the people of Russia as rubble in the fallout. While the streets of Ukraine fill with the smell of smoke and sound of gunshots, cities in Russia are filling up with anti-war protestors, many who have been detained despite peaceful demonstration. It's a huge risk, one with severe consequences.

Even the Russian soldiers, like the man mentioned above, are victims in their own right. Earlier on Monday, the MFA of Ukraine's Twitter account posted, “Russia promised its soldiers they would be greeted in Ukraine with flowers. Russia has been lying for years about how the Ukraine authorities are keeping Ukrainian people in 'captivity'.”

In a country where only government-sanctioned, Putin-approved propaganda is allowed in the media, Russians by and large are being fed one grossly illegitimate narrative. Namely, that Ukraine is a dictatorship and that Russia’s use of force is a necessary and defensive act. With that kind of coerced vitriol, it’s no wonder that half the population voted that military force was justified.

This young man was made to believe he'd be doing something heroic, and he died under that illusion. And he is one of many.

And yet, in the chaos of misinformation, the words of this dying man offer a sobering dose of brutal reality that shoots straight to the heart. The losses caused by this attack are irrefutable and irrevocable. It is a horror happening on both sides. Russia itself is not the enemy here. Deception, greed and the brutality of an immoral leader are to blame.

More sons and daughters will be lost. More mothers and fathers will wonder whether that next text message will be the last. The real tragedy of war is that it destroys while promising reconstruction.There are no victors, only survivors.

This is only the newest incident that sheds a light on the devastating effect of the “us versus them” mentality. As we continue to read gut-wrenching headlines, it's important to quiet the voice that longs to demonize an entire people for the lack of virtue of one man (and his followers). Just as it is important to practice good social media hygiene during these times, it is crucial to practice empathy. In a time of mindless violence and toxic division tactics, connection is one of the few things truly worth fighting for.

Ileah Parker (left) and Alexis Vandecoevering (right)

True

At 16, Alexis Vandecoevering already knew she wanted to work in the fire department. Having started out as a Junior Firefighter and spending her time on calls as a volunteer with the rest of her family, she’s set herself up for a successful career as either a firefighter or EMT from a young age.

Ileah Parker also leaned into her career interests at an early age. By 16, she had completed an internship with Nationwide Children’s Hospital, learning about Information Technology, Physical Therapy, Engineering, and Human Resources in healthcare, which allowed her to explore potential future pathways. She’s also a member of Eryn PiNK, an empowerment and mentoring program for black girls and young women.

While these commitments might sound like a lot for a teenager, it all comes down to school/life balance. This wouldn’t be possible for Alexis or Ileah without attending Pearson’s Connections Academy, a tuition-free online public school available in 31 states across the U.S., that not only helps students get ready for college but dive straight into college coursework and get a head start on career training as well.

“Connections Academy allowed me extensive flexibility, encouraged growth in all aspects of my life, whether academic, interpersonal, or financial, and let me explore options for my future career, schooling, and extracurricular endeavors,” said Ileah.

A recent survey by Connections Academy of over 1,000 students in grades 8-12 and over 1,000 parents or guardians across the U.S., highlights the importance of school/life balance when it comes to leading a fulfilling and successful life. The results show that students’ perception of their school/life balance has a significant impact on their time to consider career paths, with 76% of those with excellent or good school/life balance indicating they know what career path they are most interested in pursuing versus only 62% of those who have a fair to very poor school/life balance.

Additionally, students who report having a good or excellent school/life balance are more likely than their peers to report having a grade point average in the A-range (57% vs 35% of students with fair to very poor balance).

At Connections Academy, teens get guidance navigating post-secondary pathways, putting them in the best possible position for college and their careers. Connections Academy’s College and Career Readiness offering for middle and high school students connects them with employers, internships and clubs in Healthcare, IT, and Business.


“At Connections Academy, we are big proponents of encouraging students to think outside of the curriculum” added Dr. Lorna Bryant, Senior Director of Career Solutions in Pearson’s Virtual Learning division. “While academics are still very important, bringing in more career and college exposure opportunities to students during middle and high school can absolutely contribute to a more well-rounded school/life balance and help jumpstart that career search process.”

High school students can lean into career readiness curriculum by taking courses that meet their required high school credits, while also working toward micro-credentials through Coursera, and getting college credit applicable toward 150 bachelor’s degree programs in the U.S.

Alexis Vandecoevering in her firefighter uniform

Alexis, a Class of 2024 graduate, and Ileah, set to start her senior year with Connections Academy, are on track to land careers they’re passionate about, which is a key driver behind career decisions amongst students today.

Of the students surveyed who know what career field they want to pursue, passion and genuine interest is the most commonly given reasoning for both male and female students (54% and 66%, respectively).

Parents can support their kids with proper school/life balance by sharing helpful resources relating to their career interests. According to the survey, 48% of students want their parents to help them find jobs and 43% want their parents to share resources like reading materials relating to their chosen field.

While teens today have more challenges than ever to navigate, including an ever-changing job market, maintaining school/life balance and being given opportunities to explore career paths at an early age are sure to help them succeed.

Learn more about Connections Academy’s expanded College and Career Readiness offering here.

@thehalfdeaddad/TikTok

Dad on TikTok shared how he addressed his son's bullying.

What do you do when you find out your kid bullied someone? For many parents, the first step is forcing an apology. While this response is of course warranted, is it really effective? Some might argue that there are more constructive ways of handling the situation that teach a kid not only what they did wrong, but how to make things right again.

Single dad Patrick Forseth recently shared how he made a truly teachable moment out of his son, Lincoln, getting into trouble for bullying. Rather than forcing an apology, Forseth made sure his son was actively part of a solution.


The thought process behind his decision, which he explained in a now-viral TikTok video, is both simple and somewhat racial compared to how many parents have been encouraged to handle similar situations.

“I got an email a few days ago from my 9-year-old son's teacher that he had done a ‘prank’ to a fellow classmate and it ended up embarrassing the classmate and hurt his feelings,” the video begins.

At this point, Forseth doesn’t split hairs. “I don't care who you are, that's bullying,” he said. “If you do something to somebody that you know has the potential end result of them being embarrassed in front of a class or hurt—you’re bullying.”

So, Forseth and Lincoln sat down for a long talk (a talk, not a lecture) about appropriate punishment and how it would have felt to be on the receiving end of such a prank.

From there, Forseth told his son that he would decide how to make things right, making it a masterclass in taking true accountability.

“I demanded nothing out of him. I demanded no apology, I demanded no apology to the teacher,” he continued, adding, “I told him that we have the opportunity to go back and make things right. We can't take things back, but we can try to correct things and look for forgiveness.”

@thehalfdeaddad Replying to @sunshinyday1227 And then it’s my kid 🤦‍♂️😡 #endbullyingnow #talktoyourkidsmore #dadlifebestlife #singledadsover40 #teachyourchildren #ReadySetLift ♬ Get You The Moon - Kina

So what did Lincoln do? He went back to his school and actually talked to the other boy he pranked. After learning that they shared a love of Pokémon, he then went home to retrieve two of his favorite Pokémon cards as a peace offering, complete with a freshly cleaned case.

Lincoln would end up sharing with his dad that the other boy was so moved by the gesture that he would end up hugging him.

“I just want to encourage all parents to talk to your kids,” Forseth concluded. “Let's try to avoid just the swat on the butt [and] send them to their room. Doesn't teach them anything.”

In Forseth’s opinion, kids get far more insight by figuring out how to resolve a problem themselves. “That's what they're actually going to face in the real world once they move out of our nests.”

He certainly has a point. A slap on the wrist followed by being marched down somewhere to say, “I’m sorry,” only further humiliates kids most of the time. With this gentler approach, kids are taught the intrinsic value of making amends after wrongdoing, not to mention the power of their own autonomy. Imagine that—blips in judgment can end up being major character-building moments.

Kudos to this dad and his very smart parenting strategy.


This article originally appeared on 3.24.23

Sponsored

3 organic recipes that feed a family of 4 for under $7 a serving

O Organics is the rare brand that provides high-quality food at affordable prices.

A woman cooking up a nice pot of pasta.

Over the past few years, rising supermarket prices have forced many families to make compromises on ingredient quality when shopping for meals. A recent study published by Supermarket News found that 41% of families with children were more likely to switch to lower-quality groceries to deal with inflation.

By comparison, 29% of people without children have switched to lower-quality groceries to cope with rising prices.

Despite the current rising costs of groceries, O Organics has enabled families to consistently enjoy high-quality, organic meals at affordable prices for nearly two decades. With a focus on great taste and health, O Organics offers an extensive range of options for budget-conscious consumers.

O Organics launched in 2005 with 150 USDA Certified Organic products but now offers over 1,500 items, from organic fresh fruits and vegetables to organic dairy and meats, organic cage-free certified eggs, organic snacks, organic baby food and more. This gives families the ability to make a broader range of recipes featuring organic ingredients than ever before.


“We believe every customer should have access to affordable, organic options that support healthy lifestyles and diverse shopping preferences,” shared Jennifer Saenz, EVP and Chief Merchandising Officer at Albertsons, one of many stores where you can find O Organics products. “Over the years, we have made organic foods more accessible by expanding O Organics to every aisle across our stores, making it possible for health and budget-conscious families to incorporate organic food into every meal.”

With some help from our friends at O Organics, Upworthy looked at the vast array of products available at our local store and created some tasty, affordable and healthy meals.

Here are 3 meals for a family of 4 that cost $7 and under, per serving. (Note: prices may vary by location and are calculated before sales tax.)

O Organic’s Tacos and Refried Beans ($6.41 Per Serving)

Few dishes can make a family rush to the dinner table quite like tacos. Here’s a healthy and affordable way to spice up your family’s Taco Tuesdays.

Prep time: 2 minutes

Cook time: 20 minutes

Total time: 22 minutes

Ingredients:

1 lb of O Organics Grass Fed Ground Beef ($7.99)

1 packet O Organics Taco Seasoning ($2.29)

O Organics Mexican-Style Cheese Blend Cheese ($4.79)

O Organics Chunky Salsa ($3.99)

O Organics Taco Shells ($4.29)

1 can of O Organics Refried Beans ($2.29)

Instructions:

1. Cook the ground beef in a skillet over medium heat until thoroughly browned; remove any excess grease.

2. Add 1 packet of taco seasoning to beef along with water [and cook as directed].

3. Add taco meat to the shell, top with cheese and salsa as desired.

4. Heat refried beans in a saucepan until cooked through, serve alongside tacos, top with cheese.

tacos, o organics, family recipesO Organics Mexican-style blend cheese.via O Organics

O Organics Hamburger Stew ($4.53 Per Serving)

Busy parents will love this recipe that allows them to prep in the morning and then serve a delicious, slow-cooked stew after work.

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 7 hours

Total time: 7 hours 15 minutes

Servings: 4

Ingredients:

1 lb of O Organics Grass Fed Ground Beef ($7.99)

1 ½ lbs O Organics Gold Potatoes ($4.49)

3 O Organics Carrots ($2.89)

1 tsp onion powder

I can O Organics Tomato Paste ($1.25)

2 cups water

1 yellow onion diced ($1.00)

1 clove garlic ($.50)

1 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

2 tsp Italian seasoning or oregano

Instructions:

1. Cook the ground beef in a skillet over medium heat until thoroughly browned; remove any excess grease.

2. Transfer the cooked beef to a slow cooker with the potatoes, onions, carrots and garlic.

3. Mix the tomato paste, water, salt, pepper, onion powder and Italian seasoning in a separate bowl.

4. Drizzle the mixed sauce over the ingredients in the slow cooker and mix thoroughly.

5. Cover the slow cooker with its lid and set it on low for 7 to 8 hours, or until the potatoes are soft. Dish out into bowls and enjoy!

potatoes, o organics, hamburger stewO Organics baby gold potatoes.via O Organics


O Organics Ground Beef and Pasta Skillet ($4.32 Per Serving)

This one-pan dish is for all Italian lovers who are looking for a saucy, cheesy, and full-flavored comfort dish that takes less than 30 minutes to prepare.

Prep time: 2 minutes

Cook time: 25 minutes

Total time: 27 minutes

Servings: 4

Ingredients:

1 lb of O Organics Grass Fed Ground Beef ($7.99)

1 tbsp. olive oil

2 tsp dried basil

1 tsp garlic powder

1 can O Organics Diced Tomatoes ($2.00)

1 can O Organics Tomato Sauce ($2.29)

1 tbsp O Organics Tomato Paste ($1.25)

2 1/4 cups water

2 cups O Organics Rotini Pasta ($3.29)

1 cup O Organics Mozzarella cheese ($4.79)

Instructions:

1. Brown ground beef in a skillet, breaking it up as it cooks.

2. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and garlic powder

3. Add tomato paste, sauce and diced tomatoes to the skillet. Stir in water and bring to a light boil.

4. Add pasta to the skillet, ensuring it is well coated. Cover and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

5. Remove the lid, sprinkle with cheese and allow it to cool.

o organics, tomato basil pasta sauce, olive oilO Organics tomato basil pasta sauce and extra virgin olive oil.via O Organics

Limiting screentime can be enjoyable for kids and parents alike.

Like most parents, Stephany Faublas often used an iPad to keep her 5-year-old daughter Cadence Gray entertained, especially during work hours when she couldn’t devote a lot of her attention.

But Faublas shared that she began noticing behavioral changes in Cadence after an extended amount of screentime.

“We were butting heads a lot," Faublas told Good Morning America. "I was noticing her ability to listen to the full direction was not there or was decreasing. Her patience was decreasing [and] so was mine."

Hoping to nip the problem in the bud, Faublas began a “no iPad challenge,” swapping out the normal hours of screen time for practicing writing the alphabet.


Though the 34-year-old mom was initially nervous about how her daughter would react, she was pleasantly surprised by Cadence's enthusiasm at the challenge. So much so that she decided to record the journey and share it on TikTok.

“Her excitement to start made me want to record and keep the moment – just in case the enthusiasm wasn’t the same the next day. I figured I could use this footage to remind her of her excitement to learn,” Faublas told Fox News Digital.


@stehfuhnee_ Day 1 of resetting that frontal lobe (pray for us both) #momsoftiktok #kumon #singlemom #motherdaughter ♬ original sound - Stehfunee

So far, we’ve seen the adorable Cadence have a blast with letters B through M, and viewers are having a ton of fun along with her. So many have written in commending the young girl’s confidence and bold personality.

“It’s giving class president,” said one of the top comments.

What’s more, Faublas noted that those previous behavior issues “went away immediately.”

"Her ability to have a little bit more patience was there. I also felt like her emotional responses were also much more tempered,” she told GMA.

@stehfuhnee_ The Gifted to @Poppi addict pipeline 🤭 #noipad #summerslide #letterpractice #motherdaughter #momsoftiktok @target @Scholastic ♬ original sound - Stehfunee

Though quitting screens cold turkey isn’t always necessary, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends limiting screen time for children between the ages of 2 and 5 to less than one hour per day and doesn't recommend any screen time for kids under 2. Still, the organization recognizes that there’s no one-size-fits-all approach.

Regardless, it’s a good idea for parents to have some ideas for screen-free activities—particularly those that stimulate the body and the brain. Previously, Simple Life posted a video sharing a whopping 30 games that do just that. And luckily, none require a ton of props. A tissue here, a stuffed animal there. All in all, pretty darn simple.



As this video, along with Stephany and Cadence’s story, shows, finding ways to reduce screen time can be enjoyable both for parents and kids. Parents get a bonding opportunity, kids get to learn in exciting new ways. It’s just a win-win for everyone. IPads can definitely be a godsend at times, but we all know that relying on them too much doesn’t do parents, or their kids, any favors.

To follow along on Stephany and Cadence's "No iPad challenge," find them on TikTok.





Family

Mom explains the common Boomer parenting style that still affects many adults today

Many are relieved to finally have a term for this experience.

“What they want is dishonest harmony rather than honest conflict.”

There are certainly many things the Boomer parents generally did right when raising their kids. Teaching them the importance of manners and respect. That actions do, in fact, have consequences. That a little manners go a long way…all of these things are truly good values to instill in kids.

But—and we are speaking in broad strokes here—being able to openly discuss difficult feelings was not one of the skills passed down by this generation. And many Gen X and millennial kids can sadly attest to this.

This is why the term “dishonest harmony” is giving many folks of this age group some relief. They finally have a term to describe the lack of emotional validation they needed throughout childhood for the sake of saving face.


In a video posted to TikTok, a woman named Angela Baker begins by saying, “Fellow Gen X and millennials, let's talk about our parents and their need for dishonest harmony.”

Barker, who thankfully did not experience this phenomenon growing up, but says her husband “certainly” did, shared that when she’s tried to discuss this topic, the typical response she’d get from Boomers would be to “Stop talking about it. We don't need to hear about it. Move on. Be quiet.”

And it’s this attitude that’s at the core of dishonest harmony.

“What that’s showing is their lack of ability to handle the distress that they feel when we talk openly about uncomfortable things,” she says. “What they want is dishonest harmony rather than honest conflict.”



“Keep quiet about these hard issues. Suppress your pain, suppress your trauma. Definitely don't talk openly about it so that you can learn to heal and break the cycle,” she continues. “What matters most is that we have the appearance of harmony, even if there's nothing harmonious under the surface.”

Barker concludes by theorizing that it was this need to promote a certain facade that created most of the toxic parenting choices of that time period.

“The desire of boomer parents to have this perception that everything was sweet and hunky dory, rather than prioritizing the needs of their kids, is what drove a lot of the toxic parenting we experienced.”

Barker’s video made others feel so seen, as clearly indicated by the comments.

“How did I not hear about dishonest harmony until now? This describes my family dynamic to a T. And if you disrespect that illusion, you are automatically labeled as the problem. It’s frustrating,” one person wrote.

“THANK YOU SO MUCH! I'm a 49 yo biker sitting in my bedroom crying right now. You just put a name to my darkness!” added another

Many shared how they were refusing to repeat the cycle.

One wrote, “This is EXACTLY my family dynamic. I’m the problem because I won’t remain quiet. Not anymore. Not again.”

“I love when my kids tell me what I did wrong. It gives me a chance to acknowledge and apologize. Everyone wants to be heard,” said another.

Of course, no parenting style is perfect. And all parents are working with the current ideals of the time, their own inner programming and their inherent need to course correct child raising problems of the previous generation. Gen Alpha parents will probably cringe at certain parenting styles currently considered in vogue. It’s all part of the process.

But hopefully one thing we have learned as a collective is that true change happens when we summon the courage to have difficult conversations.

Family

Mom shares why she took her tween daughter's phone away after having it for a year

She explained that it wasn't social media use that led to her decision, but rather "hormonal girls being jealous.”

@the_geriatricmillennial/TikTok

“We can’t keep them from having phones forever ... they’re a part of the teenage experience now, but at what expense?”

Kids and phones—it’s the modern age dilemma of every parent. When to let them have a phone, what apps to allow them to use on it, how to monitor their usage…none of these are questions with set answers. The only thing we do know is that making the wrong choice can lead to serious consequences for a child’s mental health and development, so parents are understably wary.

One mom named Kailey recently shared how this anxiety even led her to taking away her tween daughter’s phone after she had already had it for a year.

In a video posted to her TikTok, Kelly explained that at first giving her two daughters phones at the age of 10 brought her “peace of mind.”


Phones gave her daughters more independence to roam the neighborhood and go to friend’s houses, while still being able to contact her if anything went wrong, and she could track their whereabouts. This felt especially important to her since so many parents don’t have landlines, nor do they exchange each other’s contact information.

Kelly “struggled” with this decision, given all the information out about granting kids phones too early, but ultimately thought this was the best option.

That is…until now. Kailey went on to say that over a year's time, she has seen firsthand how “detrimental” phones can be.

Perhaps most surprising of all, Kailey added that it wasn’t social media that was the big problem. “You can block the social media. That stuff’s all easy,” she said.

“What it is ... is hormonal girls being jealous.”


@the_geriatricmillennial Taking away my 11 year old daughters phone agter having one for a year because its feeling like more negative than positive lately. No opinions needed, parentinf kids in the digital age is hard enough but would love to hear what other parents are doing to maintain their kids independence while also being safe #momofteens #momoftweensgirls #momofdaughters #parentingadvice #teenswithphones #millennialmom #momsover30 ♬ original sound - Geriatric Millennial | Kailey


Kailey then shared the story of how her daughter was out with friends when one of those friends posted on Snapchat. Her daughter doesn’t have Snapchat but was recorded in the video. Another friend who does have the app saw the video and demanded to know why Kailey’s daughter was hanging out with that friend instead of them. Cue drama.

“And then my daughter feels bad and she has to make up a lie because she doesn’t want to hurt that friend’s feelings.”

While Kailey knows that jealousy and teenage girls have gone hand-in-hand long before iPhones, she felt that—despite all the precautions she’s taken—it only made the problem worse. This eventually led her to deactivating her now 11-year-old’s phone.

“We can’t keep them from having phones forever...they’re a part of the teenage experience now, but at what expense?” she concluded. “We as parents need to band together and agree that we’re not going to allow it until 14, 15, 16.”

Down in the comments, other parents understood Kailey’s experience completely.

One person shared “My daughter is 11. I reluctantly got her the phone last summer. I totally regret it. The texting drama is nuts. I have all social media blocked.”

However, many felt like this decision would bring about more problems—either by compromising her daughter’s trust or ending up making her feel isolated from her friends.

“When you take it away they will hide more from you,” one person said. “They will make accounts on their friends phones, and now they won’t talk to you about problems.”

“I was cut off from my friends because I was the only one without a phone (at 11 specifically) and it was the worst thing for friendships. Nobody cared to include the girl they can’t text. I’m 26 now,” another recalled.

Others pointed out that it might be overlooking the real problem: navigating conflict.

As one person put it: “It sounds like you need to have multiple conversations with her about making good friends vs bad friends and being mindful about who she surrounds herself with and a lesson on boundaries with friends.”

In a follow-up video, Kailey stood by her choice, acknowledging that while we’re never going back to a time without smartphones and their inherent issues, she thinks that waiting until her kid is older is the necessary “happy medium.”

Finding a happy medium is a good way of putting it, for sure. And getting to that balanced place might require some experimentation, since no two kids are alike, and since this is still fairly new parenting territory. Of course, knowing how long to keep kids as kids is not new and will always be a challenge for parents in one way or another.

A double merle Australian shepherd smiling. (Representative image)

TikToker EchoBadlistener has his hands full with four dogs: Morty (deaf and blind), Echo (deaf and visually impaired), Winston (overweight), and Frank, who, in his owner’s estimation, is “not too smart.”

But even though Morty can’t see or hear, he enthusiastically greets his owners whenever they come home. A recent TikTok video that has been seen over 9,000 times shows how Morty has given his high-energy hellos to his owners over the past four years.


Although Morty sometimes takes a little while to find their exact location, once he zeroes in, he leaps up and grabs them with his paws or makes excited doggie donuts in the middle of the kitchen.

@echobadlistener

Little kangaroo #deafdogsoftiktok #blinddogsoftiktok #fyp #threedeafdogs #morty #babymorty

So, how does Morty know when his family is home if he can’t hear or see? Dogs have an incredible sense of smell up to 10,000 times greater than a human’s. So he picks up on their scent when they enter the house. He is also probably very sensitive to familiar vibrations, such as a door opening and closing, and can feel footsteps when people walk across the floor.

Morty and his sister Echo are deaf and have vision problems due to birth defects that come from breeding merle dogs. Merle is a genetic pattern in a dog's coat that causes irregular patches of color on a lighter background. It's also known as dapple in some breeds. When two merle dogs breed, each puppy in the litter has a 25% chance of becoming a double merle. Double merles have a very high chance of having congenital eye defects and hearing impairment due to a lack of hair pigment in the inner ear.

But being deaf and blind doesn't stop Morty from recognizing his owners and showing them what a good doggo he is.