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September 26, 2015

Deaf Dogs Hear With Their Hearts - National Deaf Dog Awareness Week

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I had the privilege of meeting Christina Lee, co-founder of Deaf Dogs Rock at a blogging convention where she shared with us her story about how a skinny little puppy changed her life. 

Nitro's story

A little pup who would come to be known as Nitro was found in 2010 by a river in Salem Virginia. When he was taken to the Salem Animal Shelter, it was discovered that this 10-week-old pup was completely deaf.

Christina Lee was a volunteer who would take photos of homeless animals to facilitate their adoption. The shelter director called Christina to say she had a special pet to show her.

Instead of just asking Christina to photograph this puppy, the director asked if there was any way she and her husband Chris would consider adopting this skinny guy. She knew he was not likely to find a home due to his disability.

The Lees already had three dogs and three horses on their farm. Despite not knowing anything about training a special needs dog who could not hear, they decided to take in the little guy with few prospects. Most deaf dogs are put down, unfortunately.

They quickly invested in puppy supplies, including a special dog tag with his new name, "Nitro,"  with the added inscription "DEAF DOG." They imagined that a deaf dog could easily wander off and rescuers would need to be aware that he couldn't hear. The shelter also made sure Nitro had a microchip in case the disadvantaged dog got loose. 

Soon the Lees realized that there was very little information on training or helping a dog with deafness. They found one video showing a demonstration of communicating with a deaf dog with American Sign Language. The decided using ASL was how they would interact and train their young charge. 

It was a lot of work for everyone, but eventually Nitro was able to earn his AKC Canine Good Citizen test. He accomplished this with flying colors at the tender age of 10 months!

In just two years, Nitro and the Lee's became ambassadors and provided support for deaf dogs and owners all over the world. Their dedication has demonstrated to the world that deaf dogs can make amazing pets. They've taught people how to train dogs with visual cues and made many success stories. They've given potential adopters of deaf dogs the courage to bring a special-needs pet home. No doubt, they've saved countless dogs' lives.

In honor of Deaf Pet Awareness week, we will share inspiring quotes from the Deaf Dog Rocks site from deaf dog owners.

Kaitlyn Wayward Kitty Lewis –  Perth, Western Australia - My deaf German coolie, Jack, was my first dog after leaving home. I adopted him when he was 4 years old and is the most placid, loving and attentive dog. He trumps all other dogs in every way and I can’t imagine life without him. Lewis He’s my special Jacky boy ♥

Chelley Burton Pratt – Waterloo, IA - What adopting a deaf dog (make that three deafies) has brought to my life is love unconditionally, compassion and just a lot of fun! My three deaf boxers and Maggie (we also have an English Bulldog that hears…but likes to pretend she can’t) all show us love all of the time and compassion when I am having those not-so-great days! I know that there will be four excited kids waiting for me when I get home, licks and kisses all around! I can not imagine why people can’t embrace a deaf dog…mine don’t know they are deaf! They play just as hard as any other dog! Can’t imagine what I would have done without them!

Jyl Hunt – Newburgh, IN - I rescued Oakley from a breeder who was going to have him put to sleep if no one took him. She didn’t want the “hassle”. Oakley is a completely deaf and partially blind Australian Shepherd. I brought him home at 6 weeks old and was instantly in love. I was 20 years old and had no idea how I was going to train a deaf dog. In high school, I had taken a few sign language classes, but I wasn’t sure if they would cross over to the dog world. Only one way to find out. 2 years later, we know almost a dozen tricks. Oakley is my shoulder to cry on when I have a bad day, my walking buddy and my best friend. I have learned more about patience and acceptance in my 2 years with Oakley than some people do in their whole lives. I’ve been able to educate so many people we have met on deaf dogs because of his willing, eager to please attitude. Loving a deaf dog and the bond you form between them is truly something amazing to be part of.

Breanne Leibering – Herndon, VA  - I rescued my deaf Boston Terrier, Lola Mae, unaware that she was deaf. She has brought so much love and happiness to my life, I don’t know who I would be without her. She is attentive, loving, and the most people friendly dog in which I have ever come into contact with, much less owned. She loves kids and is known around the neighborhood as being “one of the kids”. People always ask if I would still have adopted her if I had known she was deaf, and my answer is emphatically YES! There are many positive traits to a deaf dog that are more difficult to find in a hearing dog – constant attentiveness, lack of dominance traits, no barking when the doorbell rings….. She’s the BEST and light of my life!

Don't you love the graphic above? You can get a t-shirt made with it either for yourself or a friend who has been blessed with the love of a deaf dog. Hurry - there is a limited number of these shirts available! 

For more quotes and inspirational "tails" of deaf dogs who've beaten the odds, visit the Deaf Dogs Rock stories page!

Jen L on September 26 at 9:44 AM said:

Please share Keller's story. Keller The Double Merle, on Facebook
lateshia sanders on September 26 at 10:25 AM said:

i want to start my dogy to model lateshiaxbox360@gmail.com

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