In a leafy corner of Pirbright, nestled in the woodland, lives Donatus, Prince of Hohenzollern, and his blind rescue dog Alexis.

Our tale begins three years ago when a lady in Greece picked up a street dog, ‘‘more dead than alive on a B road somewhere”, with a missing eye, most likely from a gunshot. 

Alexis was taken under the care of a local rescue centre, who paid his medical bills and moved him to kennels. From there he went on to a foster family in Germany.

A year later, Alexis still hadn’t been adopted. Donatus says that blind dogs are always left behind as nobody wants a disabled rescue pet and it’s these dogs that are most often euthanised. 

Having recently downsized, the businessman, who is decended from royalty in several countries and is related to the late Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, decided that the time had come to put some good back into the world and bring home a rescue dog.

Through a mutual contact, the rescue centre in Greece sent some videos of Alexis, a dog that they claimed to be half blind. 

“If I’d known he was completely blind, I wouldn’t have taken him, because I would’ve thought it’s too challenging, I don’t know whether I can deal with that,” Donatus said.

Only after Alexis arrived at his new home did Donatus realise that he was, in fact, completely blind. “It was the most beautiful error and I’m so grateful for it, because he is the perfect dog.”

Despite his lack of vision, Alexis manages to navigate the world like any other dog. He can be seen jumping over fallen trees, finding his way through small gaps in the fence and even letting himself through a gate, using his paw to open it. 

Donatus puts this down to Alexis using all of his other senses to create a 3D space in his memory, utilising sound, smell and touch to find his way around new places before internalising it into his memory for next time. Donatus has even taught him left and right.

He constantly calls Alexis his ‘‘superdog’’ and says that he now wishes to spread the word that disabled dogs are just as deserving of a home as any other dog. 

“Blind dogs are more perfect dogs than ones with vision … he’s more attached to me. He’s listening and he understands that I’m helping him.

“He’s not an incomplete dog, he’s even in some sense more dog than all other dogs.”