American Sign Language with Deaf Dogs

I have had the awesome privilege to have been the human parent of three amazing and loving #deaf #dogs over the past 23 years beginning in 1993.  Working with these wonderful #pups has brought clear understanding of just how imperative it is for us to develop solid and loving relationships with all our family members and friends, human and all God's creatures alike.  No matter what our particular strengths and weaknesses happen to be, they combine themselves into making us the unique and special beings that we are. 

I have also discovered that working with and/or #training our #deaf dogs has not changed, and I begin today to offer tips to anyone who may need or be interested in caring for our very special pups.  I shall continue over the course of the next few weeks to give folks my list of tips, one by one.  But, today I simply offer a glimpse into our home back in 2007 when my son-in-law, Julius, captured a couple minutes of me and my pups in the kitchen during a holiday festivity communicating with American Sign Language (ASL).  You will see: Hogan, the older deaf Dalmatian; India, the elderly Black Labrador who had gone deaf with age; Clarence, the young yellow Labrador who understands ASL; and Georgia, the petite deaf Dalmatian.  The two smaller pups are our daughter's; and they, too, have been taught to understand some signs. 

I teach all my pups to understand this already-invented form of communication so they can all comprehend what I am saying at any particular time.  Of course, being a verbal human, I use the spoken word at the same time which naturally increases my facial expressions and enhances my message.  ASL is extremely convenient as well because we have often encountered others outside our home who are familiar or even fluent in signing.  It's incredible to watch others interact with my pups in a productive and meaningful way!

But, the message I hope everyone understands first and foremost is that communication is key in our success.  We all need to be able to communicate, to understand, and to be understood.  Without a solid method of communication our pups, like us, will become frustrated and anxious.  I encourage folks to get a pocket-sized handbook on ASL and start!  It's not only fun, it's a game changer!!

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