Deaf Dogs Have Hope of Running Free

I continue to be amazed at how the world has is preconceived notions about or #deaf #pups#. Blessed since 1993 with the precious gifts of "deafdogs as members of our family, I have learned firsthand how wonderful it is to be accepted and loved by a God-created #pup who puts no limits or prejudice on my personal inadequacies. At the risk of repeating myself, they have accepted and loved me just how I am.

I am privileged to share a writing from a friend met on Twitter. He unselfishly agreed for me to put his words in my blog today and puts so much of what we deaf-dog, loving families into perfect expression.

"JOEY" (as titled in the magazine)

I wrote this article the week of March 9, after putting down my dog “Joey”, a deaf rescue Dalmatian. I support the ownership and training of deaf dogs. I don’t believe that everyone needs to experience a deaf dog, I just feel that there is no real bad side involved, if you are willing to understand the situation and work through it however tough it may be in whatever direction it takes you. 

For perhaps, if the truth were known, we're all a little blind, a little deaf, a little handicapped, a little lonely, a little less than perfect. And if we can learn to appreciate and utilize the dog's full potentials, we will, together, make it in this life on earth. 

-  Charlotte Schwartz

On Saturday Morning I reached over and closed, for the last time, the eyes of the sweetest dog I’ve ever had. A deaf puppy-mill dog that was a wonderful obedience-therapy-companion dog. He didn’t know he was deaf, and I never told him. Because he was deaf, unfortunately that meant the could never compete in any AKC events. Since I have a number of friends however, who are official AKC judges, they did me favours and evaluated us at fun-matches as if it were a real obedience trial. We got some pretty good scores. I want to explain here that deaf dogs are not a bad thing. NO, I’m not promoting them as a fad or style, I’m just saying that euthanasia doesn’t have to be the only answer.

Myths share a commonality with lies. If you say and/or pass them around long enough, you, and those listening, believe them to be true. Here are the most common myths regarding deaf dogs, along with the misinformation they spread:

~*  The "Startled-Aggressive Dog" Myth

~*  The "Deaf Dogs Should Never Live With Children" Myth

~*  The "More-Likely-To-Be-Hit-By-A-Car" Myth

~*  The "Need A Hearing Dog" Myth

~*  The "Time Bomb" Myth

~*  The "Incredible Challenge To Train" Myth

~*  The "Few Special Owners, Few Special Dogs" Myth

I’m not going to elaborate, instead I’d very much like you all to please go and look.

~*     http://www.deafdogs.org/faq/myths.php

My life with “Joey” will explain why each and every one of these are myths.

First off, don’t kid yourselves, all of these behaviours can and do happen with perfectly good hearing dogs. Dogs are either properly trained or not. Deafness doesn’t have to be a factor.

For example, my dogs since I can remember (1972), have all been good sleepers. I would first wake “Joey” with my heavy footsteps, then I would gently blow on his face, then I would give him a gentle brush with the back of my hand. “Joey” was even sensitive to my personal scent. He could tell in a few seconds when I entered a room. Proper training prevents startle biting or aggression.

“Joey” was a wonderful therapy dog. People in physical rehabilitation centers associated very well with him. He enjoyed listening for hours to children reading stories to him at the library. That’s kinda funny, being that he was deaf. Dogs not properly socialised to and with children will have problems. It’s actually more so if the children are not good to, or with the dog. Proper dog interaction prevents problems. Generally speaking, dogs are better than kids.

It’s nice where I live, to be in the heart of the best obedience competition of the country. I asked a friend, a multiple National Obedience Champion owner/handler, if there was any way to train my boy “Joey” to not get hit by a car.

“Francis ... How long have you been working with dogs?!? ... You don’t let them out near or into the street.”

I took that simple answer to heart. It’s not difficult. You can’t really train dogs, other than maybe seeing-eye dogs, the complications of getting hit by a car.

There were three (3) other hearing dogs in my home when “Joey” came. I guess that was a nice thing, but I really don’t think it mattered. The only time maybe would be when I would call out to my boy “Bandit” to “Go get “Joey”!”, who would be in another room sleeping. This did make it a little bit easier at times for going out. Dogs are a lot more tuned into us than we may think.

Some people have a goofy idea that deaf dogs have a clock or switch inside them that is set to go off at some future time. This will then all of a sudden turn them into an out-of-control problem. This just does not happen. Maybe it does in movies or TV shows, but not in real life. It is foolish to think or believe that it does or will.

The last two (2) myths are my favourites; “Incredible Challenge to Train” and “Few Special Owners - Few Special Dogs”. I was a little concerned in the very beginning when I thought about how to train “Joey”. Numerous people from the “Deaf Dog World” (I made that title up) told me to try “American Sign Language” (ASL). OK. I could do that. LOL @ Me. After ten(10) days I decided to forget that idea. Now let me say, there are many good people having great successes with ASL. I just wasn’t one of them. I switched to going with what I already knew, good old regular standard AKC general signals. They were known to work and that way only one (1) of us had to learn something new. Smooth as glass, it worked like a charm. The problem wasn’t with “Joey”, he could learn just fine. I just needed to teach it.  “Joey” became probably the finest obedience dog I’ve had, since give or take 1972. YES, “Joey” was special. I told you before that he was the sweetest dog I’ve ever had. He was also a rescue. My best performers have all been rescues. My theory is that their lives were not very good before coming to me. I changed that. I gave them what they needed. If you get two (2) simple ideas into a dog’s head, they’ll do anything/everything they can for you. “I am safe.” and “I get love.” That’s all it takes. A simple recipe for success. Everyone can have a dog as good as I believe “Joey” to have been. YES, you can.

YES, I am that good at what I do. But, you know what ... ANYBODY, yes anybody, can do what I do. It ain’t rocket surgery. Trust me on this.

I’ll tell you what, on any given day, I’ll give you a thousand different unique success stories. There are thousands of deaf-dog owners from all over the world. I’m not making that up either. Dogs are dogs first, breeds second and personalities third. Deaf dogs are not for everyone, but they can, and do, make wonderful pets and family members. They can be trained just like any other dog, as long as you are willing. Remember ... safety and love gets the job done so much easier. Deaf dogs are special. Deaf dog owners are special too. They are regular, ordinary, responsible people, willing to give a deaf dog safety and love.

The great pleasure of a dog is that you may make a fool of yourself with him and not only will he not scold you, but he will make a fool out of himself too.
 - Samuel Butler

I’m Francis S., a member of two (2) AKC Obedience clubs, owning and training dogs since 1972 (I was 10). If you have any questions, PLEASE, e-mail me and I will honestly answer all of them.

~   NCE1988@...

If you are ever in the Chicagoland area and would like a private lesson or demonstration, that can easily be arranged too. It’s cheap. I charge nothing, you just cover a “guest training fee”.

Here is a great site for more information (it’s old, but still really good):

- Deaf Dog Education Action Fund -   http://www.deafdogs.org/

[I add another site, old as well, but informative - http://www.deafdogs.com]

If you have men who will exclude any of god's creatures from the shelter of compassion and pity, you will have men who will deal likewise with their fellow man.
 - Saint Francis of Assissi

May God keep you now and always.

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I included the video at the top of this blog because of yet another myth: deaf dogs can't run free. Judea, like Hogan years ago, runs free as she runs the lure course, better known as running the bunny. Pure joy for her and for me!

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