by Karey Wedemeyer
Karey Wedemeyer is a volunteer with the Fresno Bully Rescue. FBR will be sharing their animal rescue adventures with us now every other month.
What’s that you say? DEAF DOGS ROCK!
When Nola found herself at a local municipal county dog shelter, she had no idea that her chances of finding a home were slim. Although beautiful and with a wonderful temperament, Nola was also a pit bull with special needs; she was deaf. With two strikes against her and with such a short time to find a home before being euthanized at the shelter, she had no idea how close she came to the end of her life. Pit bull breeds have it the hardest when it comes to being adopted from county shelters. Adding the fact that she had a hearing impairment only made it worse. Fortunately, before her time ran out, Nola was rescued by Fresno Bully Rescue, a local no-kill shelter.
Nola is not the first deaf dog to be rescued by Fresno Bully Rescue. Bridgette Boothe, FBR’s Director, says being deaf is definitely not a deal-breaker for rescuers or adopters. With the right owner, deaf dogs adjust in a home just as well as a hearing dog. Often times deaf dogs are much more attentive to their owners because of the communication relationship which develops. Sometimes it may take a little more time to find that right family, but FBR has had pretty good success finding homes for special needs dogs. Nola was adopted in December of 2014. When Nola was adopted by Beth and her family, it was Nola’s personality they fell in love with, NOT a “deaf dog.”
Beth says, “Nola’s hearing impairment was not a factor at all. I just knew the moment she looked at me she was going to be a member of our family. When I found out she was deaf, I started doing a lot of research so I would know where to start when we brought her home.”
When asked how Beth taught Nola manners like potty training and sit/stay, she said, “Nola was easy because she surprised us and came already housebroken. As with any dog, cheese is a great incentive, and we taught her with hand signals: sit, stay, blanket, down. Nola is an only dog (she shares the home with five kids and four cats), but loves play dates with friends’ and relatives’ dogs on a daily basis.” Beth says she does not see any difference between Nola and the other dogs while they are playing. Research shows that dogs use their sense of smell and body language primarily for communication, which is why a deaf dogs usually have a relatively easy time adjusting.
Unlike Nola, Shelby, who is also deaf, was adopted from FBR to a home with an established dog pack. Shelby’s pack treated her the same as any dog. Members of Shelby’s pack also had disabilities that did not stop them from living normal lives. Her new sister only has one eye and together they are quite the pair! Shelby’s family had previous experience with deaf dogs and, as with Beth’s family, her disability was not a factor. Lisa says the most important signal you can teach your deaf dog is “look at me.” Once the dog has this command learned, and with the aid of a few snacks, additional signals/commands are easily taught. One of Lisa’s most useful tools was a flashlight. “Initially we tried vibrating collars to start the training. Shelby did not respond well, so I tried a flashlight. She responded immediately. Once I get her attention, she looks directly at me and we do signals from there.”
Both Shelby and Nola are beloved family members, and FBR’s adoption coordinator, Terese Shaw, could not be happier. Terese says she evaluated each home and family as she would for any dog being adopted out. “Each of our dogs has individual personalities and needs, so we want to make sure we are making the best fit for both the dog and the adopter.”
Another recently adopted deaf dog is Annabelle. Annabelle originally came to us as a puppy. She is a beautiful White Boxer/American Bulldog mix.
Deafness can potentially happen in any breed of dog. Deafness can be congenital (at birth), or as a result of an injury or ear infection. As we have learned, it does not mean the dog is no longer able to be a loving and happy family member. Like many others, Lisa and Beth were able to adapt to their dogs and, as a result, now have a a wonderful asset to their family. Next time you are looking to add a four-legged family member, consider one with special needs! You might just find that it was the best decision of your life.
Want to learn more about deaf dogs and find adoptable deaf dogs in your area? A great resource is www.deafdogsrock.com. To learn more about the adoptable dogs at Fresno Bully Rescue, please visit our website at www.fresnobullyrescue.org/adoptable.html.
Check out more animal rescue stories in our Pet Perspective section. Advertise in KRL and 10% of your advertising fees can go to Fresno Bully Rescue.