The Mission of Hope

Judea, #deaf #dog, watches intently during a game of the three-cup-shuffle.

I was privileged to have been able to #adopt our Hogan into our family back in 1993 when he was 18 months old. His #deafness wasn't any sort of a concerning thought in bringing him home - we simply adapted our method of communicating with him. #Books, articles, manuals, and videos have been written and produced since that time explaining how to live with a #deaf #dog. These are great and I truly applaud those who are offering #training directions. The fact of the matter is that it is we humans who need to simply shift how we get our message across to our pups. Think about it. Some police academies use German to train their canine partners. Herding experts use various whistle sounds. Animal sports often utilize arm and hand gestures. And, many of us with deaf #dogs use #American #Sign #Language.

Deaf dogs are often destroyed, mistreated, or abandoned.  The #myths that they are unable to learn, cannot become wonderful family members, will get hit by cars, will startle more easily, and are prone to aggression are all just that - MYTHS. Each one is untrue and I continue my mission to spread the word that deaf dogs can make loving family members. And, I say family members - not #pets - because our four-legged creations need to be more than the level of a pet. Remember years ago when we could buy "pet rocks?" Exactly! If rocks can be made into pets, what does that make our beautiful #pups (kitties, hamsters, gerbils, etc.) who can feel, respond, learn, cuddle, and love?

Myth #1: Deaf dogs can't learn - FALSE!

In the picture above, my deaf pup, Judea, is watching intently as she learns to find the treat under the cup during the 3-cup-shuffle. She is 95% accurate and successful as she demonstrates how well she learns to children whenever we go out for an appearance or book signing. She has learned many other things as well. Using over 20 American Sign Language words, she understands sit, cookie, come, lay down, drop, get, pick up, hungry, eat, wait, jump, out, and kiss. These are just a few. Hogan's vocabulary was over 70 signs.

 In this picture Judea has learned very well how to feed herself from the "Bubblegum Machine."

In this picture Judea has learned very well how to feed herself from the "Bubblegum Machine."

Myth #2: Deaf dogs will get hit by cars - TRUE, but ............

How many of the dogs that are hit by cars in the United States every year are dogs who can hear? Dogs are not by nature aware of the danger of cars and ALL pups need to be kept out of harms way.

Myth #3: Deaf dogs will startle more easily - True and False

The expression "Let a sleeping dog lie," was NOT coined because of deaf dogs but because of all dogs. We must be responsible caregivers and desensitize any and all our pups from being startled whether they are sleeping or awake. I know that I don't like being scared when someone startles me from sleep, deep concentration, or popping out from behind a corner. Teach our pups to know that any circumstance of touch is safe and loving.

 Judea feels safe and loved whenever she is touched.  Like all dogs need to be, she has been desensitized to being startled or touched suddenly.

Judea feels safe and loved whenever she is touched.  Like all dogs need to be, she has been desensitized to being startled or touched suddenly.

Myth #5: Deaf dogs are more prone to aggression - FALSE

I have had three deaf pups thus far and all three have been loving, gentle creatures who begged for gentle gestures of love and acceptance in return. Additionally, I have had the honor of working with thousands of families internationally with deaf pups and encountered only a handful (if that many) who were in need of redirection and training regarding any type of aggression.

I know that there are more untrue statements about our beloved deaf pups. There are also many more untrue assumptions and discriminations made about various breeds, colors of dogs, etc.

My hope is that Hogan’s journey and his courage to overcome challenges and prejudice continues to give inspiration to anyone, human or pet, that accomplishment, success, and genuine love are truly possible.   Through his lifetime of determination, Hogan’s tale offers us the promise that we all are capable of achieving an amazingly “ordinary” life and a life away from isolation. His valor reveals that dreams come true and offers insight into the world of true faith, unconditional love, and endless hope.  It is a story that needs to be shared so our deaf pups, all our pups, can be loved as they deserve to be loved.

The mission: to encourage each other to choose hope - anything is possible when we choose hope.