Adopting, Training and Loving a Deaf Dog: A Story of Hope
A strong support system is important when facing any medical condition.
Friends, family, support groups, even online communities – there are so many places to turn to for human companionship. But what about canine companionship? People aren’t the only ones who need a little support…and they aren’t the only ones who can give support, either.
Our customer Linda J. is in a very unique situation. Born deaf and recently diagnosed with diabetes, she just made a new best friend. This friend might be four-legged and covered in fur, but the two of them have one very important thing in common; Linda and her new puppy, Crystal have a special bond, because Crystal is deaf as well.
“I went to the SPCA to pick up my dog, Scotty, from grooming. A lady who can do [sign language] came to me to tell me that she had a deaf puppy. I told [her] that I wanted to see it,” Linda explained. “She took me to a shelter and I saw a cute white puppy with a black spotted tail. Her eyes were so blue; I loved her already.”
Taking care of a deaf dog can be challenging, and many deaf dogs are euthanized when they can’t find homes with people who are willing to put in the extra time and effort. But Linda understands the dog’s condition better than most. She knows how to communicate with Crystal and understands that patience is key when teaching the dog new things.
“Since you can’t talk to a deaf dog, you just show love or cuddle them,” Linda said. “If you know sign language, then use it with [them].”
Tips For Training and Living With a Deaf Dog:
•Get an American Sign Language pocketbook. The first word signs you should concentrate on are sit, down, stay, come, no and stop.
•Keep your dog safe. Keep your dog on a leash when walking, and fence in your yard to prevent the dog from wandering. Buy a medical ID pet tag that states that your dog is deaf. Also engrave the tag with your contact information.
•Get your dog’s attention by thumping on the floor, waving, or using a flashlight or laser.
•Teach basic obedience. Try to find an obedience class. When training, speak the commands as you give the sign and put your dog in the correct position, then reward with food. Training sessions should last about 15 minutes.
•Take caution when waking your dog. Always touch your dog GENTLY in the same place (like his shoulder) when waking him up. Startling the deaf dog out of sleep is dangerous.
•Reward your dog often. Clap your hands. In ASL, this means good job/success. Smile when praising your dog, and do it often.
For more helpful hints and to learn more about deafness in dogs, adoption, and to find additional resources for deaf dog owners, visit the Deaf Dog Education Action Fund at http://www.deafdogs.org/.
Your pet doesn’t have to share your condition to be a great source of support and even treatment. Many studies suggest that having a pet can keep you healthy by reducing stress and encouraging exercise, and having a pet to keep you company can be a comforting distraction from your day-to-day routine.
Do you have any pets? How have they impacted your health and happiness?