‘Oh how sad’
‘Gosh, that must be hard’
‘Why would you pick that one?’
‘You won’t be able to do much with a deaf dog’
‘That’s not going to be safe with kids’
‘Watch out for that one, it’s deaf’
- things we hear all the time when out in public with our dogs.
‘Would you like to put it down?’ - things new vet clinics still actually ask us.
We are at the tail end (pun intended) of Deaf Dog Awareness Week for 2018!
Have you heard any of the above said to you? Every time I hear them I take it as an opportunity to gently prove to them exactly why we do what we do.
There is nothing sad or poor about my deaf dog. He is well loved, happy, healthy, spoilt bloody rotten to be honest. He doesn’t miss out on anything, and in his role as a deaf dog ambassador he actually gets quite a few opportunities that the average pet doesn’t.
People struggle more with the idea of the dog being deaf than the dog itself. For a dog like my Kato, he knows no different, he was born deaf - his world has always been silent. For dogs who lose their hearing with age it tends to happen gradually and they adjust well to a quieter life.
Often people will make the assumption that it is hard to live with or train a deaf dog. I won’t lie and say it’s a breeze. Generally it’s reasonable easy adjustment but for some people it’s not. It can be a culture shock and there are people can be overwhelmed at the thought of learning a new way to communicate.
What I try to remind people is that they are dogs, they still act, live and learn like dogs. Yes, you have to learn to use your hands and body language to communicate but there’s no rules. Use what works for you, and what works for your dog. Some people use Auslan, some people use ASL, some people use agility and obedience signs.
It almost becomes second nature and you’ll find yourself signing to all dogs and occasionally to your kids and others too! Personally I use a combination of all of those plus some made up signs of my own and also a lot of simple directional instruction. My signs are simple enough that my young daughter can easily communicate and train my dogs. (Kato has a vocabulary of approx 50 signs).
I cannot stress this enough: EVERY dog, hearing or Deaf should be assessed individually. Not by hearing status, but by their own temperament and personality. My deaf dog is ridiculously good with children. He seeks out interaction from children and enjoys their games. He regularly attends schools, youth groups and makes public appearances to promote dog safety as well as deaf dog awareness.
My hearing dog however will not. In his world children are too loud and too touchy and he’d rather just stay at home and go to bed. Both dogs are the same age, same sex, both well trained, both raised in the same house with the similar experiences. Different dogs. Different personalities. Different temperaments. And it should go without saying that all dog/child interactions should be adequately supervised.
Because he was deaf! Originally Kato was going to be the first of my ‘project’ dogs that I was going to train, fully vet, show off and use to change people’s mind about deaf dogs while I looked for the best forever family for him.
Then the meathead weaseled his way into my heart so deep it was glaringly obviously he was already in his forever home. That was the very start of Hear No Evil.
Sadly yes, It was such common practice for years and years that deaf pups be put to sleep rather than sold or given away that it was widely accepted to be the done thing. Thankfully with so much more support and information out there about deaf dogs it is becoming a lot less frequent.
There are so many benefits of having a Deaf dog but here are afew of my favourites:
Kato and the reason why Hear No Evil Australian Deaf Dog Rescue exists!
If you share your heart and home with a deaf dog give them a shout out in the comments!
Let’s celebrate our deafies and show the world how amazing they can be!
President & Founder
Hear No Evil - Australian Deaf Dog Rescue
If you would like to DONATE to Hear No Evil and give a deaf or special needs dog a second chance at life and love then CLICK HERE