The Chosen Ones, Owning a Deaf Dog

Skate as a puppy, now Ludwig

Regardless of the dog you have today, the dog your friend or neighbor has, or the dog you may adopt tomorrow, one day you will encounter a deaf and/or blind dog.  The information in this article will help you and your dog tremendously!

Written by Christopher Chosy

My wife and I have a beautiful 2 1/2 year-old Aussie named Ludwig (though we call him Luddy) that we adopted from The Dog Liberator Rescue (Skate) when he was just a pup. Almost every time we take him out someone will stop us the conversation usually goes like this:

Person: “Your dog is beautiful what kind is she?” (they always think HE is a SHE)
Me: “HE is an Australian Shepherd”
Person: “But he is all white”
Me: “Yes he is Deaf”
Person: (Usually raising their voice or switching to a pity voice) “OH POOR THING well he is very cute”
Me: “We adopted him from a rescue The Dog Liberator they do great work.”
Person: “So you knew he was Deaf beforehand how sweet of you!”
Me: “Trust me, he chose me and I wouldn’t trade him for anything!”

This humorous conversation is played out over and over again. I don’t get upset or frustrated because I understand preconceived notions about Deaf dogs; they are similar to those about Deaf people.

My wife and I became involved through our church to work with the Deaf and hard of hearing community. At first we were apprehensive; especially me.  I had conjured what Deaf people must be like in my head before even meeting one Deaf person.

When we decided to move forward one of our instructors for ASL (American Sign Language) ended the first day with an illustration I have never forgotten. He said:

“the Deaf live their life in a box especially when they interact with the hearing world.
When they are around other Deaf persons or those in the hearing community that learn their language,
they are able to get out of the box, always let them out of the box.”

 

When we put our new ASL skills to practice I learned not only that my preconceived notions were off base, but they were completely wrong. Now I cherish all of my close friends who just happen to be Deaf!

Ludwig and Meja

Perhaps you feel this way about Deaf dogs.  Maybe you have preconceived notions in your head about what they must be like. Could be that you did research on the Internet or spoke to someone who told you negative things. Naturally such things would leave you feeling apprehensive and it’s okay to feel that way.  I have to tell you from experience, you are missing out on some great dogs that will give more love than you could give them, for their entire life!

What are the basic differences between a hearing dog and a Deaf dog?

Deaf dogs are not distracted by sounds.
Deaf dogs are constantly focused on your every move, thus easy to train.
Deaf dogs are not thunder-phobic!

So what is it like to have a Deaf dog?

Deaf dogs are constantly focused on you; not being able to hear, they are always  looking at you for direction; this makes them a delight to train. Our dog Luddy knows as much ASL as I do! I have lost count on how many signs he has learned. What was amazing is the number of things he does all by himself. If we open the door he will stay no matter what, he will not go through the doorway unless signed to come.  The same goes when we travel to the park; I open the car door and he will wait until he is told to come out. These aren’t things we taught him, these are things he learned on his own.

Chris and Ludwig

Luddy loves kids!  If he could be surrounded by kids at all times he would be in heaven. We have some friends with younger kids and he is very gentle; even when they pull on his tail and ears.

If we take him to the dog park, he will play, but he always keeps one eye on us. A simple wave to come and he will come running. If we play in the backyard and we walk inside he will be right next to us. They are definitely companions for life; true Velcro dogs.

Fireworks, thunder, loud noises etc. Luddy could care less; doesn’t spook him at all.

Velveteen, Adopted in 2010

He is a great guard dog, I am not a scientist, but my Deaf friends swear their sense of smell is very sensitive and heightened.  Also, they pick up on vibrations quite easily. This must be the same for Deaf dogs having a heightened sense of smell compared to other dogs. Luddy can smell someone as they walk through the doorway. The most incredible thing is when my wife or I are coming home from work.

One time he and I were in the backyard playing when he pause and bolted inside the house and stood at the side door. I looked out and didn’t see anything but about 30 seconds later my wife, driving home, was pulling onto our street.  I thought this was a coincidence until two days later the same thing happened again. How he knows is a mystery to me, but he does.

We also give him a “sign” for when someone comes to our door; that’s when he lets out his “scary bark” and runs toward the door!

Yes, Deaf dogs do bark, his normal bark is quite and high-pitched, and as I mentioned his scary bark sounds like a normal dog. Luddy can’t hear it but he knows we can.  No need to worry that Deaf dogs will leave your house unprotected; quite the opposite.

Knish, Adopted 2012

Some people will tell you not to get a Deaf dog because they will snap, there isn’t anything behaviorally or mentally wrong with them they just can’t hear. With that being said, it is cruel to sneak up behind a Deaf dog and scare them or jolt them out of their sleep. If you choose to do that to any dog you may get bit; can’t say that you don’t deserve it though.

There is so much more that I want to share with you about owning a Deaf dog.  What’s amazing is that once you own one, you will never own a hearing dog.  It’s true.  People who have owned a Deaf dog will adopt another Deaf dog!  So what are you waiting for?

Note:  The Wilson family have adopted and fostered many deaf/blind dogs, and their extended family and friends have personally adopted several.  Their first was Fiona.  After adopting Fiona, everybody wanted one!

Because of greedy and irresponsible breeders, deaf dogs are on the rise.  Breeders lie about the dog, in an effort to get rid of them, and sell them to unsuspecting dog-lovers, or they abandon them.  It is doubtful that we will ever be able to put them out of business, but with great rescues like The Dog Liberator, some of these dogs have a chance.

China and Baby Ga Ga

Deaf Dogs Hear with their Heart

So if you took the time to read this article, or if your on this website looking to adopt a dog, I ask if you see a dog that may be Deaf or vision impaired don’t look and say “oh they are cute” and pass them over. Imagine them living in a box, and your the only one who can let them out, for that I can promise, unconditional love will be yours for their entire lifetime.

Please let them out of the box.  ~ Christopher Chosy

Click Here for our Latest Book, about rescuing Deaf Dogs.

 

Everybody Lies

Several months ago, I went to a dog show in DeLand.  All of the dogs there were AKC registered purebreds.  A woman had two collies, and was ready to “show” one.  Asking a friend if she could hold the leash of her female, I volunteered.  Before she went into the ring with her male Collie, she warned me that her female was “in season” and to watch her carefully.  I just smiled.  My girls, Sarah and Danielle joined me (only 9 years old) and they bent down to pet this little Collie girl I was holding.  Sarah looked up at me and said, “Mom, she has China eyes.”  I smiled at her, because I knew that dog was blind.  I could also tell the dog was deaf.  When the owner returned, she thanked me for my help, and you know I had to be me!

“You have had her eyes looked at right, and her hearing checked, right?”  I asked her.  I kid you not, the woman backed away from me in total terror.  It was as if I had sprayed her with mace.  She knew, that I knew.  And I knew, that she knew.  She scrambled for words, looked down at the ground for a moment and said, “Oh, my vet has checked her out, there’s nothing wrong with her,” then she vanished.

Do I care that she is competing with a deaf/blind collie?  No!  Do I care that she is breeding her?  Seriously?  Do I really need to even answer that question?  Seriously?

Sassafras, Adopted 2010

When Miss Fritzi wanted to adopt Sassafras from us, we were shocked.  She was in Connecticut, why would she want to adopt a Deaf Old English Sheepdog from Florida?  Because she did!  She had deaf OES before, and the woman knew what she wanted.  We didn’t argue!  After talking with Fritzi over the phone, she explained to me that she had purebred Old English Sheepdogs, and she entered them into competitions, they won quite often, but no one knew that there were deaf.  She explained that deaf dogs could not enter agility competitions.  “I will not drink the Kool Aide,” she told me.  “I entered my dogs in competitions, I just never told anyone, and I certainly didn’t breed them.  No one knew my dog was deaf.  I didn’t tell anyone until after she passed away.”

 

Don’t Love Me Just Because I’m Beautiful!

China and Sarah

 

Last week, after we enjoyed ourselves at the DeLand parade.  Brittney Myers and my daughter, Sarah took turns holding China the leash.  China was stunning, dressed in pink!  Many people asked if they could pet her, and of course the answer is yes.  They would bend down, rub her little head and talk sweet to her.

“Oh how sweet, are you a good girl?  Would you like a cookie?”  All the while China is focused on her handler, not on the stranger.

“She can’t hear you, she’s deaf,” we explain.  The admirer then gets confused, and wonders how they couldn’t tell.  “She’s the most highly trained dog here, but she can’t hear you.”  So it appears that Chris experiences the same reactions in public with Luddy, as we do when we are out with China!

Kiss, Adopted 2010

After the parade, we went to DeLand Skydive for a bite.  I noticed through the smoked glass of the restaurant, a puppy outside.  I saw it from that distance, the pup had a China eye; meaning it was blind.  I approached the man, and politely asked if I could look at his pup.  He agreed.  The pup wouldn’t sit still, but when I finally got to look at his eyes, I was right, his left eye was blind.  Again, the girls, Sarah and Danielle came over to pet the puppy.  Once again, Sarah looked up at me and said, “Again Mommy?”

Yes my dear Sarah, again!

China

China

I informed the young man very politely that his dog was blind in one eye.  He was devastated.  He shared that he had just purchased the pup, for a large sum of money.  I told him the pup was lucky that he bought him.  I told him not to be concerned, the blindness matters not.  I did tell him to train the pup from the right side, and not to let anyone, especially children spook the pup from his left side.  He told me he had taken the pup to the Vet, and that this can not be.  Once again, the man quickly left.

Maybe I should learn to be quiet?  If I do, this pup like many deaf and blind dogs, might be punished unfairly (many deaf/blind dogs are abused).  Can I prove this?  Of course I can!  China was severely abused, by a mom who didn’t know she was deaf.  China was beaten, and it took me over six weeks for her to even allow me to touch her.

Hey Mister!  Your dog isn’t stupid, your dog isn’t ignoring you; your dog is deaf!

Bill Wilson and Fiona, Adopted 2011

 

So this begs the question of the day… to Veterinarians know but don’t tell?  Do they not see it?  Do they turn a blind eye to the condition (pardon the pun).  This begs the question, why is it when I walk into my Vet’s office, they can see it from down the hall!  They know I have just brought in a deaf/blind dog!

“Where do you find these dogs?” Dr. Pinzon, who is a vision specialist, asked me last year.
“I don’t find them, they find me!”  I answered.

Note to Self

I can tell you that it was my Aunt who told me that my three year-old Sheltie, Mischief was blind.  I didn’t believe her.  Mischief never missed a thing.  My Aunt insisted, and I was floored.  I took Mischief to the vet, and my Aunt was right, she was completely blind.  Mischief had a great life, and lived to be 12 until seizures took her life.  Her blindness never stopped her!

Full Disclosure

Jalo now Gigi with Mary

We don’t always go out of way to rescue deaf and blind dogs!  Just a few months ago, Jalo was pulled from Miami-Dade and her owner, Mary, discovered she’s deaf.  I took Baileys in from his owner, who didn’t know he is completely blind in one eye, and has poor sight in the other.  What’s important to understand is no one is complaining!  In none of these adoption photos are the adopters disappointed in anyway!  These are all really awesome dogs!

 

 

More than Just Great Dogs

Falcor, adopted 2011

I hope that we continue to share our experiences with deaf and/or blind dogs.  They are truly amazing.  As I was reading what Chris wrote for this post, I couldn’t help but smile.  Everything he said about what Luddy does, is what China does!  China is the first to bark at the door at strangers.  Why?  I think my dogs hear the car’s engine, they recognize the sound of that car door, they know those footsteps, and they simply just lift their head up.  They do not run to the door, because they know who it is!  China, however, doesn’t know who it is.  A stranger is a stranger, and someone is that the door!  She runs and barks ferociously, protecting her home.  She doesn’t recognize me through the glass, my other dogs do.  She doesn’t stop barking until she can smell us.  She is an awesome watch dog!

With regard to their clairvoyance, China lays by the front door 15 minutes before I pick Sarah up from school; 1:45 every day.  Prior to 1:45, China sleeps on a comfy bed or the couch.    On Wednesdays, however, she lays by the front door at 12:45 for early release!  She does this so she doesn’t miss Sarah’s return, for if she sleeps somewhere else, she will not feel the door open!

Jen and Fiona

Not all Deaf dogs are Blind.  Not all White Dogs are Blind or Deaf.  We do not believe that Dundee, aka Chance is deaf or blind, yet he is a solid white Aussie.  If he is, he shows no signs!  Not all Blue-eyed dogs are Blind!  Not all Deaf dogs are visually impaired!  I agreed to rescue China’s Twin, Lilly, because I was convinced she was deaf and/or blind.  She isn’t!  She isn’t!

 

Winter, abandoned and forgotten

 

Today, I am fostering Winter.  He is a stunning dog, and I believe that after just one day, I have found his new home.  The Dog Liberator has followers that will trip over themselves just to adopt one of our Deaf dogs.  Why?  Well, the proof is right here on this page, isn’t it?  They are a lot like Potato Chips, you can’t have just one!

Click here to read more about our Deaf/Blind Dogs.  While you will notice that most of these dogs are breed for looks, they are adopted because of their incredible intelligence and intense love!

You can also visit http://www.deafdogs.org/

Help us Rescue and Save the Life of a Deaf Dog Today!

Help us Rescue and Save the Life of a Deaf Dog Today!

Email us for more information: TheDogLiberator@gmail.com







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2 Comments

  1. NANCY EMMA

    10.23.2013

    I have read the stories on the webpage and it delights me to see so many wonderful articles. I can’t thank you enough for writing them. I have one question, do deaf/blind dogs have problems with other dogs in the house or do they need to be the only dog?

    Thank you,
    Nancy Emma

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