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.
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.
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!